Category Archives: Psychology

Use the CSBOC To Increase Self-Awareness

Did you know that Swiss analyst, Carl Jung, who gave us the concept of archetypes and influenced appreciation of dream analysis, also had great respect for the Chinese I Ching? He used it as as a tool for making the unconscious conscious.

In fact, Jung was instrumental in bringing the first usable English translation to the West. He wrote the introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version by giving an example of using it. He queried asking for a comment on the translation. The answer received was, in effect, that a vessel of great value which had fallen into disrepair was being restored.

My small yellow book follows Jung’s example. In the Introduction, I ask, “What does the Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC)  have to offer its readers?”

Its answer: “Awareness.” A changing line yields the likely future outcome of following through. “Gain.” (I’ll show you how this works below.)

But even before starting, the book emphasizes the importance of practicing a thoughtful process of question- asking:

The quality of results depends on the state of mind in which information is received. It is therefore essential to learn how to approach the Book of Change in the best possible frame of mind.

So quiet yourself. Get past the clutter of chaotic thoughts to focus on forming a worthy question.

. . . There are many techniques for calming the mind and focusing attention. One of these is usually practiced before asking the question.

Bottom line: consulting the Book of Change is not only compatible with yogic and mindfulness practices of introspection, contemplation and meditation. They work synergistically. Settling the mind to ask the right question induces a meditative state. The ability to induce a meditative state enhances the quality of questions asked and value of answers received.

To give you the flavor of working with The Common Sense Book of Change, I’m sharing the example given in the book.

If you initially feel uneasy with this approach to increasing self-awareness, you might find the answers to commonly asked questions reassuring.

If this is new to you, try approaching it with the attitude for approaching the unfamiliar recommended by Samuel Coleridge, a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Or, as I do, at the start, prayerfully invoke protection and guidance according to your beliefs.

 

 

SAMPLE READING

First I collect my materials. I need three pennies, a pad of paper or notebook, a pen or pencil and the Book of Change.

Then I find a quiet place to sit. I take a few minutes to settle down. I clear my mind of other thoughts and silently watch the breath until it becomes slow and even.

Then I think carefully about what is going on, what is troubling me, and the issues I need to know more about. I list the decisions I have to make and consider what consequences are likely to follow from my future actions.

For the example in this book, I have decided to ask, “What does The Common Sense Book of Change have to offer its readers?”

I enter the date and my question in the Diary Section at the back of the book.

Concentrating on my question, I take my three pennies, shake them a few times in my gently closed fist and roll them onto the flat surface in front of me.

The first throw of my three coins comes up three heads. The value of heads is two, so I multiply three times two to get six.

Since this is an even number, I draw a broken line on my pad of paper. It will be the bottom line. Because all three coins were the same, I place an “X” next to this line to show that it is a changing line.

My bottom line looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___X

Then I take the three coins and throw them again. This time I get two tails and one head. The value of tails is one, so I add one and one to get two. I add this to the two for the heads coin to get four.

Since four is an even number, I place a broken line in the second place over the bottom line. My pad of paper now looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Line 2    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

̀I follow the same procedure four more times. My final hexagram looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Top       T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 5   T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 4    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 3     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 2     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom  H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

The next step is to find the number of my reading. I turn to the chart at the back of the book. The bottom three lines of my hexagram are all broken.

I turn to the chart at the back. In the “lower trigram” column of the chart, the picture which matches this figure is “k’un.”

The top three lines of my hexagram are two solid lines over a broken line. In the “upper trigram” row of the chart, the picture which matches this figure is “sun.”

By going to the box which shows the combination of upper and lower trigrams, I find the number 20. I therefore turn to Hexagram 20 for answers to my question.

Hexagram 20 is AWARENESS. So the answer to my question, “What does the Common Sense Book of Change have to offer its readers?” is AWARENESS. It reads:

Seek increased AWARENESS of the patterns which underlie all natural events. Tune yourself to the creative source of natural change. Then harmony becomes a way of life. Secrets of the arts and sciences will be revealed. Human relationships will become smooth. Mistakes of mis-calculation will be prevented. Avoid unnatural leaders.

Because the bottom line is a changing line, I go to the page directly opposite the hexagram, titled “Direction of Change.” I read the sentences for the bottom line. They advise:

Narrow-minded self-interest is not enlightened. Broaden your views. Include others. (42)

The number in parens after the warning represents the hexagram which results when the bottom line changes to its opposite, a firm line.

The new hexagram, GAIN, indicates the change that would result from the AWARENESS this book has to offer its readers. Turning to Hexagram 42, I read:

GAINS can be made after analyzing the situation correctly. When a person’s life goals are kept firmly in mind, no time is wasted. A way can be found to use whatever resources are at hand to serve one’s purpose. Serving others can be compatible with personal gain. Avoid smug self-satisfaction.

I then turn to the back of the book. In the Diary Section, I write the numbers of the hexagram and any changing lines next to my question. Then I decide what future actions I to take.

Finally, I enter a few sentences to describe my thoughts and decisions into the Diary Section. That way, I know I can return to my question, the reading and my decisions later to think more about them.

I hope this helps. Any questions? Comments? Your feedback is welcome.

How Much Do You Know about the Book of Change (& Why Should You Care)?

Tai Chi Tu - sized

Listed below are eight common myths and misconceptions shrouding the perennial, venerable Chinese I Ching. Answers to these commonly asked questions give good reasons why you would benefit greatly from working with it.

circled Q

ONE

Q. What does an ancient book from a foreign land have to do with me, here and now?

A. Everything. The I Ching as a compendium of Natural Law is neither time nor place-bound. It speaks to the questions we all ask about the human condition. For over 8,000 years, with good reason, it has endured as the foundation of Chinese healing, governing and military arts alike. No equivalent exists in the West. Most importantly, it fills a fatal gap in the way Westerners have been taught to think.

TWO

Q. If it is so important, why isn’t it taught to young people in schools?

A. Good question! Probably because the assumptions described below are taught as if fact.

THREE

Q. Isn’t the Book of Change unscientific – just hocus pocus? Primitive or New Age superstition?

A. Like any other wisdom tradition which has endured over time, the I Ching has inevitably been subject to misuse. This doesn’t, however, reflect on its inherent value. In fact, this compendium of Natural Law is so highly sophisticated that Western science is just beginning to catch up with it.

For example, in the 1800s, Leibniz acknowledged that its mathematical foundations long preceded his calculus. The single and broken lines of the hexagrams are analogous to binary-digital computer code. Further, its 64 hexagrams have been directly correlated with DNA structure.

FOUR

Q. Question: Is the I Ching a sacred book, like the Bible? Is it part of a religion?

A . Answer: Yes and no. Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucians, despite their differences, hold the I Ching in highest regard. It is used to connect with inner knowing, on the one hand, and consulted for practical advice regarding every aspect of daily life, on the other. To them, the sacred and secular are inseparably intertwined, interwoven as the warp and woof of the fabric of life.

This book maps the dynamics of the Law of Karma – the foundation of practical ethics. Much has been written elsewhere on this subject.

FIVE

Q. Isn’t The Book of Change pagan and therefore off-limits to Christians? Doesn’t it contradict or oppose the teachings of the Bible?

A. There is no conflict. Natural and Divine Law are two different subjects. The Book of Change is a compendium of Natural Law. The two are compliments. As such, Chinese sages respected nature as a manifestation of the Tao, or God. As described elsewhere, both the Old and New Testaments show an understanding of the nature compatible with the I Ching worldview. This is quite different from pagans who by-pass Divine Law, worshiping nature instead.

In fact, many people with the best of intentions find their lives going terribly wrong for lack of the understanding (call it emotional intelligence) cultivated by working with Natural Law. Ongoing sexual and financial scandals which plague hierarchies secular and religious are directly linked to this ignorant lack of awareness: a fatal blind-spot in our education.

SIX

Q, Is the I Ching used to predict the future, like a crystal ball? Is it meant for divination, meaning to get what one wants or locate missing objects?

A. Advanced sages who understood numerology used it to produce astonishing results. But the I Ching is most often used as a method for making better decisions, in part because it serves to make the unconscious conscious. Truer to original meditative intent, people often use it to practice mindfulness. Working with The Book of Change helps quiet the mind, increase self-understanding, and then better understanding of others.

SEVEN

Q. Can the I Ching be fully understood or appreciated without knowledge of the Chinese language?

A. Hindu’s are attached to the exclusive value of the Sanskrit language, Jews to ancient Hebrew, and Muslims to the original language of the Koran. However, the source of truth is beyond language. Its cultural expression at a particular time and place varies, but the basic essentials are necessarily the same.

EIGHT

Q. Isn’t it better to learn about natural law from the European philosophers Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau, as America’s founding fathers did?

A. No. Their philosophy is intellectual speculation. Although they use the same words, that is where the similarity ends. The I Ching is based upon thousands of years of experience by leaders trained in the meditative arts to observe their inner states. They recognized exact correlations between inner and outer experience. Through careful observation, they detailed the operations of nature and the dynamics which drive human relationships.

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

In writing this post, I surprised myself and took a different direction. I intended to pick up where the last left off, completing Dr. Phil’s sentence: “If you love your children, tell them how the world works.”

There, I quoted an exchange between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and a radical student on the subject of identity.

Student: My question isn’t about [the article], but more about identity. . . . Maybe nature lends itself to creation of arbitrary structures within society. But then people self-identify with these categories. . . . How do people reckon with the parts of their identity that may or may not contribute to environments where people feel more estranged, more alone?

JBP: That’s why you educate . . to separate the wheat from the chaff. Because you’re a historical creature. And it’s outside of you and inside of you.

Well. He’s right . . . but only partially so. For we are more than mere “historical creatures.”

What I would add to the mix is a deeper, more comprehensive component of identity. For that, I rely on the gravely misunderstood and underrated I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change, along with its more accessible and familiar spin-offs: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu’s classic Art of War. Together, they represent a blind spot in Western thinking, a glaring deficit in our knowledge banks responsible for dangerous deficits in every aspect of today’s civilization.

The I Ching and both spin-offs detail how the world works. They are especially useful when dealing with conflict.This is the gift of love I’ve labored long to restore to common knowledge.

To the extent we applied this knowledge to questions of identity and social structure, we’d have a hope of restoring common sense and sanity to our lives.

Earlier, I spend hours putting together pictures of shallow circumstance and the biblical answer to suffering. However, instead, what I decided to do here is share three related essays. Each applies ancient wisdom to current confusions.

Essay 15 on Roles offers a broader view of gender and social identity. Essay 13 addresses how roles are learned in the Family. This in turn builds into rethinking the structure of Community, Essay 14. This is a lot to take in, I know. But please stay with me. It’s well worth taking the time to give these tried and tested truths your careful consideration.They could well make your New Year go much better.

Also, by the way . . . Dr. Peterson repeatedly states his respect for Taoist philosophy. Everything below is in harmony with and supports his view of how the world works.

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

Traditional business concepts of organizational structure and management technique often condition managers to classify and measure everything and everyone they are responsible for. Organizational charts assign names to little boxes in hierarchal order. . . Not that there is no value in all these charts and systems; on the contrary, they offer a worthwhile way of understanding the fundamental structure. But the structure should serve, as chords do in jazz, as a basis for innovation and improvisation. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Leaders must be people who will not fight change but who will anticipate it, and can be challenged enough by it to enjoy it. . . We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who feels strong and courageous and trusting enough to trust himself in the present situation. — Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

THE FRONT

“Role” refers to a part or character that an actor plays in a performance. By extension, it refers to a function or office assumed by someone for limited duration to fulfill a particular purpose. We wear roles like clothing put on by day, shed by night.

Success in the world depends on the ability to choose a suitable part and play it with sincerity and skill, aware of how that role fits into the larger pattern of family and business organization. When studied, practiced and performed to perfection, a well-defined role provides a structure from which to relate to others and serve a useful function within the whole.

Knowing one’s particular place in the universe at any given time, in specific contexts, is an important part of self-knowledge. It’s possible to wear an array of “hats,” suitable to many complimentary roles, even during the course of a day.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, MacBeth laments, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

When we live unconsciously, we identify not with our essential true selves, but only the roles arbitrarily assigned by accidents of birth and later, by chance.

Though there are exceptions to the rule, and many variations on the theme, gender is a primary dictator of roles. In the West, girl children are traditionally dressed in pink and trained for reproductive and housekeeper roles with no preparation for transition to a productive middle or old age. Boys are dressed in blue and expected to participate in contact sports, fight wars, earn a living and support a family, also with little thought for what else life may have in store.

For the most part, one’s wealth, business and social opportunities are largely determined by whom one’s parents happen to be. Likewise, religious beliefs and nationality traits are mind-sets usually fixed by place and time of birth. In The Taoist I Ching, the sum of these factors is called cultural conditioning.

A life thus lived on automatic pilot, running on programming that has never been examined, is barely human. One cannot say such a life measures up to God’s gift of free will. There’s no conscious choice involved in the way it’s lived.

The goal of I Ching-based, Taoist training is to release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning, so that the mind is freed to return to its universal, pristine nature.

The purpose of overcoming cultural conditioning is not to withdraw from life, but rather to live it consciously and intentionally, to the full. Those who truly know how to act, do so with heart and soul. Rather than merely going through the mechanical gestures of scripted parts spoken without understanding, they play out a changing succession of roles over a lifetime with full awareness and conviction.

Taking on and letting go of roles is either growth-productive or traumatic, depending on one’s philosophy of life. In I Ching context, ephemeral change is natural, not subject to moral judgment as good or bad.

But, to the extent we live unconsciously, we’re but tragic shadows of our true potential. We’re poor players because we know not what we do. The more we become conscious, the more we are able to bring vitality, depth and meaning to the roles we choose, and the more radiant our lives become.

Those in leadership roles with I Ching awareness carefully prepare followers for change, equipping them to meet challenges and survive adversity. People who depend on leaders stuck in the past, unwilling or unable to change, are in deep trouble. Their survival depends on listening to the warnings of conscience in combination with gut instincts, finding positive ways to work around and overcome the dangerous consequences of mismanagement.

THE BACK

The opposite of roles is to be without a part to play. Jobless and/or homeless people are excluded from the give and take of productive daily life, as are incarcerated criminals and those institutionalized with mental or physical health problems. So are slum dwellers whose extreme poverty results in lack of education, skills and access to the work world.

The value of roles is perverted when they’re frozen into masks and performed without authentic involvement. When people identify with roles (or hide behind them) to such an extreme that they forget their true identity, they become disconnected from life. People who think of others only in terms of their roles stereotype them, disrespecting their essential humanity.

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

The nature of the chakra cords that you build in your first family will be repeated in all the following relationships that you create later. . . As an adult, you will most likely grow dependent child/mother cords between you and your mate. As you move through life and mature, you gradually transform the child/mother cords into adult/adult ones. Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

In the family we learn love, patience, respect, nurturing, affirmation, and health. The family also teaches us about competition, domination, selfishness, and deceit. The family is thus a relatively efficient learning system for the development of mind, spirit, and body. It involves the whole self. — Tom Chappell, The Soul of a Business

For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. – Jesus Christ, St. Matthew 12:50

THE FRONT

The Latin root of “family” means household establishment. An obsolete usage refers to all the people living in the same house, including servants and slaves. A later definition refers to all the relatives living in the same house, including extended family. Only recently has it come to mean a nuclear unit, the traditional set of parents (one husband, one wife) and their off-spring.

A family can mean a group of people related by ancestry or marriage, including relatives. It can be all those claiming descent from a common ancestor, tribe, or clan — a lineage. A crime syndicate under a single leader is also called a family.

The extended Kennedy clan is a shining example of family cohesiveness. Yet, in an interview with Larry King, Maria Shriver described lessons her family never taught her. The “real world” lessons in her book, intended to spare others from learning the hard way, are strikingly similar to I Ching basics. For example, she observes, “Behavior has consequences.” This, of course, is the Law of Karma.

Ideally, children should learn the basics within the family. If we trained ourselves and our children in I Ching ways, there would be no need for each generation to reinvent the Wheel over by repeating the same mistakes. Sheltering them from the “real world” isn’t a kindness.

A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools to give them the practical edge, help them meet the challenges of adult life with intelligence and self-confidence.

As Brennan indicates, first family bonds are instinctual. As we extend outwards, we unconsciously tend to replicate parent/child dynamics in later relationships. However, if we succeed in maturing and evolving over time, we can put childish ways behind and succeed in forming adult relationships based on conscious choice and commitment.

As Chappell indicates, within the nuclear family as in the family of man, everything, both positive and negative is possible. As we learn to articulate what we see and respond wisely to experiences in the family environment, we become increasingly able to apply these skills in school, business and extended political situations.

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates, the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards. It requires looking inward.

Efforts to improve personality lead to the necessity to know one’s mind. This in turn leads still deeper into exploring one’s innermost awareness. Then, in due time, inward movement cycles outwards once again, incorporating the benefits of inward journey into one’s personal and practical everyday life.

Within families of every size, whether communities, religions, corporations and governments, some live the law while others do not. As Christ taught, those who love and choose truth form the nucleus of his ultimate extended family.

Those who love life, who seek truth and understanding and do their best to help others as they can wherever they may be, have more in common with each other than with evil-doers within their own groups.

THE BACK

Opposites of family include strangers in our community whom we’ve never gotten to know, foreigners raised abroad who speak languages and practice customs we don’t understand, as well as others we’ve been taught to mistrust and dislike.

The antithesis of family is foe, including competitive opponents and military enemies. Whereas families are ideally founded on common beliefs, goals and mutual support, those who threaten or sabotage others undermine healthy relationships. Gratitude and hope build communities. Mistrust, hostility and abuse break them down.

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate. — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat! — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole. – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound

THE FRONT

“Community” stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or as idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy.

Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times.

Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable.

The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching Natural Law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based on energy dynamics which the human community share in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions.

True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before first cleaning out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life conditions attract corresponding external experience, fighting in anger and hatred reaps results in kind.

Working to establish positive community relationships before personal attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is futile. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Put the other way around, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling of conscience. They then become increasingly fit to participate as members of a viable community, able to fulfill their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms.

If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

Angel Calling

Peace & Good Will

At this time of year, hearing Handel’s perennial Messiah on the radio makes me nostalgic. His oratorio brings written words to life with stirring music. When I think of angelic voices, I imagine choirs singing:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)

heavenly host

This music was the key to my formative years. Two marvelous summers in a row at the National Music Camp – a wooded, lakeside retreat in Interlochen, Michigan – I sang in the Festival Choir.

Outdoor rehearsals blended youthful with adult voices and orchestral instruments with the sounds of wind blowing through the pines. Birds joined in, singing from tree tops. Nature and music wove a fabric of indelible memories.

Over time, I built on that early experience, expanding what I learned as a musician to encompass right relationships and effective governance. Harmony remains the consistent standard.

Today, I wish you angelic peace and good will at this annual solstice nadir, with its implicit hope for regeneration in the coming new year.

To that end, I offer two rethinkings on harmony and health that may prove helpful. The Essay on Harmony was written in the year 2000. My style has changed greatly since then, but the substance remains timely. In contrast, comments on The Way Music Works adds my view point to a recent psychological analysis of music’s effect.

 

Angel Calling

Essay 8. HARMONY

The art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe. For instance, if we study ourselves we shall find that the beats of the pulse and the heart, the inhaling and exhaling of the breath, are all the work of rhythm. Life depends upon the rhythmic working of the whole mechanism of the body. Breath manifests as voice, as word, as sound; and the sound is continually audible, the sound without and the sound within ourselves. — Sufi Inayat Khan, Music

Artistic activity does not consist in art itself, as such. It penetrates into a deeper world in which all art forms of things inwardly experienced flow together, and in which the harmony of soul and cosmos in the nothing has its outcome in reality. — Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (in The Warrior Within)

When we dance, we are like hobos who jump on the freight train of the beat. Swept along, our bodies automatically adjust to the pace, pulse, and the rhythm of the sound; the music evokes an organized pattern of responses. The emotional pulse of great concert music entrains an entire audience. — Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect

THE FRONT

The Greek root of harmony means fitting. Webster’s first definition is a combination of parts fit into a pleasing or orderly, continuous whole. The second is agreement in feeling, action, ideas or interests, resulting in peaceable or friendly relations. Third is an orderly arrangement according to color, size or shape.

Fourth is an arrangement of parallel passages of different authors, especially of the scriptures, so as to bring out corresponding qualities. Fifth, harmony refers to agreeable sounds, usually the simultaneous sounding of two or more tones structured into chords that are satisfying to the ear.

In Old English, carpenters were called joiners because it was their job to join pieces of wood so they fit together into well-constructed furniture or entire dwellings. There is poetic resonance in Jesus being raised in the home of a simple carpenter. It was his calling to link the levels of experience, earth to heaven, humans to their maker, individuals with their brethren.

In the context of all creative endeavors, the resonance of the joiner concept with the Sanskrit word “yoga,” which means “union,” and in turn, their relevance to the “Unified Field Theory” of Einstein’s heart’s desire deserve understanding and application.

On a small scale, social harmony depends on a sympathetic resonance between inner and outer organizations. An individual can not fit in with family, business or government structures any better than she is organized and harmonized from within. This calls for creating a personal lifestyle which allows sufficient time for introspection and atunement to the silent voice of conscience that calls to self-correction and devotion.

From the unfailing well-spring of inner resources, one draws the strength to succeed in daily action. What some people call multi-tasking is the ability to weave many different responsibilities to self, family, business and larger community into a comfortable fabric, tailoring a lifestyle suited to one’s life immediate needs and long-term goals.

From the other direction, harmonious order within institutions depends on the how well their leaders are able to link organizational goals and practices with the aspirations and abilities of individual members.

This depends on the ability to recognize and adjust to changing social patterns and the ability to steer a steady course through troubled times. This in turn requires keen commitment to hearing and doing the will of the unseen Creator as an accountable steward and worthy protector of the community.

The harmony of the whole depends upon respectful cooperation of each and every part. No one can afford to demean, exploit or sabotage others. Anyone who stands apart as if exclusively important harms everyone, self included. For in fact, each part is indispensable to the health, success and well-being of the whole.

The I Ching hexagram called Nourishment advises us to observe whom leaders choose to nourish and in what way. Most schools are equipped to feed the mind. Most do little to feed the heart or spirit. Few give the practical skills required to live harmoniously with fellow human beings much less the larger natural environment.

Through the growing interest in nutrition research, we’re becoming increasingly sophisticated about feeding the body. Music, however, nourishes in ways physical food can not, especially at levels empirical science doesn’t acknowledge. It is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to expand awareness of natural order and atune the mind-spirit to invisible harmony.

THE BACK

Opposites of harmony are unison, and, in the extreme, silence. Both have positive and negative potentials. If people speak in unison because they’ve been brainwashed or intimidated, it is a violation of free will. If they agree from common understanding, it is ideal. If people are mute out fear or indifference, it bodes ill for the future. When they maintain respectful silence in the presence of their maker, all goes well with the world.

In sum, perversions of harmony are called conflict. Dissonant, clashing sounds are displeasing to the mind, hurtful to the ears and harmful to the nervous system. Similarly, differences of ego-driven opinion and self-interest that cannot be respectfully, peaceably resolved disrupt the collective good.

Jupiter

So now, I will take up where I left off in a recent post on Psychology’s Blind Spot. I’m responding to a video called Why MUSIC Has The EFFECTS It Has – Jordan Peterson With Howard Bloom. The descriptor reads, “Jordan Peterson talks about the effects of music, what it represents and what it does to your brand [sic] and soul with Howard Bloom.”

I posted this comment:

Logical, clever, even pompous but gravely limited and misleading. The I Ching is the ancient and ultimate map of universal patterns. The 64 hexagrams (number not coincidental) correspond and resonate with DNA. You intuit this but unfortunately lack practical knowledge. You’re addressing effects, not root causes. This info is way outside the parameters of empirical science. Harmony of the spheres is the stuff of chakras detailed in the Vedas. This is not said lightly, or disrespectfully.

Please forgive me that I haven’t the patience to transcribe word-for-word what I find particularly annoying nonsense. In sum, they’re describing patterns in brain structure as if they account for music’s psychological effects.

Mistake #1. Saying patterned mechanisms in the physical brain account for music’s psychological effects is roughly the equivalent of confusing a physical record player with the sound coming out of it.

Mistake #2. They hold that music is a sociological phenomena specific to particular classes or culture. They also seem to associate it primarily with mating rituals. In fact, music vibrations have psychological effect because they resonate with the internal structure of the subtle chakra system. The second chakra has to do with sex, but there is a full spectrum of other centers with equally essential functions. I’ll continue what I started earlier to show you here a bit of what I mean.

In the Blind Spot post I stated:

Bottom line: mystical experiences and genuine psychological transformation are not accomplished by mental speculation or even acts of sheer will power. They occur in the deeper layers of the Life Wheel which have, disastrously, been made taboo in Western civilizations. Einstein called the blind spot “the fateful fear of metaphysics.”

I described the chakras, the energy fields revealed in the ancient Vedas.

Chakras . . . are “spinning wheels of light.” Seven basic ones are aligned along the human spine. In ascending order, each is associated with an increasingly more sophisticated developmental stage, state of consciousness and related psychological issues.

I continued:

. . . music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music have been described as The Mozart Effect. [Links to music videos give a hint of what’s possible through music.]

For purposes of this discussion, here’s a summary picture of the issues associated with each center.

ChakraIssues

Even at a glance, this picture suggests on the one hand, the universal nature of music, and on the other, different levels of musical effect. For example, military bands or battle calls rouse the fighting spirit. Other ragas, by time, season, or purpose stimulate the mood of love or spiritual upliftment.

One field study I recall reading many years ago disproved the specificity of cultural background to psychological response. An anthropologist played Mozart for a tribe of cannibal listeners. They were delighted and tapped their feet to the music. He then played Beethoven. They frowned and became agitated.

In many cultures and in different contexts, music has been used medicinally for healing effect. One example is the lyre to which the young shepherd boy David sang, soothing the feverish madness of King Saul.

This second picture is suggestive of ways chakra energies are blocked as well as how restoring vital circulation lifts oppressions:

ChakraDuality

In this necessarily brief “tip of the iceberg,” merely suggestive hint of the oceans of wisdom resting beneath the surface of Western psychologies, I’ll leave you with just one more teaser to ponder.

The chakras are correlated not only with notes of the musical scale, but also with specific archangels and the heavenly host who sang:

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace,

good will toward men.

 

Psychology’s Blind Spot

In his free-association-style Bible Series lecture on Jacob’s Ladder, JBP pulled just about everything out of his hat except the one relevant personal experience he could have brought to bear on Jacob’s dream. Let me tell you what I mean.

What Dr. Peterson did bring to bear on the Old Testament story – the one that inspired the rock song “Highway to Heaven”included the psychological sufferings of Freud, Jung and even Darwin. He drew on his favorite Russian writers — Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn, the Kwakwaka’wakw people (he’s an initiate) and a potlatch he attended, as well as research on administering hallucinogenic mushrooms to dying patients to induce mystical experience. The implication: Jacob’s vision might have been a chemically induced shamanic journey.

Wow. For me, that’s more than quite a stretch.

Here’s the experience I hoped he would focused on. It grabbed my attention as a valid confirmation of Eastern meditation traditions. Sadly, just as Einstein missed the unified theory implicit in his famous formula, Dr. Peterson missed the significance of the glimpse he’d been given. He persistently by-passes it, which puzzles and frustrates me. Hard to say whether the problem is cultural bias, wariness of “new age” distortions, deliberate denseness, or “professional” qualms.

Jupiter

I’m drawing from memory of a video interview, so the details may not be perfect. In any case, the substance is correct. The interviewer asked Dr. Peterson about the mystic experience he had while listening to classical music. I’m pretty sure it was Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.

In the Greek pantheon, Jupiter was king of the gods. He ruled over the affairs of gods and men from his throne on Olympus, akin to the way God is said to reign in heaven.

Dr. Peterson said in his mind, it was as if the gates of heaven opened up before him.

heaven opening.jpg

The imagery of a stairway leading to heaven is universal and no coincidence. It bears an unmistakable resemblance to the ladder of Joseph’s dream.

Blake’s artistic depiction of the ladder below was included in the lecture. JBP pointed out that the spiral effect is suggestive of the DNA helix. The transformative implications are implicit.

blake JL

The best way he could describe his personal experience of the heavens opening, he said, was that it seemed like a lotus flower unfolding. I instantly thought of the crown chakra lotus.

crown lotus

JBP’s finest moment (from my point of view) came in his answer to the last question of the lecture’s Q & A session. He came very close to touching on the tradition which explains his mystical experience as well as Jacob’s dream. Almost.

People who are interested in grand narratives have pointed out that there’s a set of common mythological themes across many cultures. They can be the same on one level, different on another. But humanity coalesces on what’s the same over a reasonable period of time.

. . . there’s this constant force [literally, energy structure] that makes our ethical presuppositions converge. And then that’s automatically expressed in those stories.

In one way, he is correct. But in another, significant way, not. Stories take on the images of each specific culture. In that way they are different. What they share in common, however, is not myth or archetype but SCIENCE, meaning “with knowledge.” Jacob’s ladder is certainly a striking example.

Lacking this universal, underlying science, humanity cannot be properly, completely understood. Psychologies remain incomplete and inaccurate. They have grievous blind spots.

Put another way, Huston Smith, premier comparative religion teacher and devout practitioner of what he calls “timeless wisdom,” wrote:

Twenty years ago I wrote a book, The Religions of Man, which presented the world’s enduring traditions in their individuality and variety. It has taken me until now to see how they converge. . . .

What then emerges is a remarkable unity underlying the surface variety. When we look at human bodies, what we normally notice is their surface features, which of course differ markedly. Meanwhile on the insides, the spines that support these motley physiognomies are structurally very much alike. It is the same with human outlooks. Outwardly they differ, but inwardly it is as if an “invisible geometry” has everywhere been working to shape them to a single truth.

This “invisible geometry” is literally the snake-like intersections of energy path ways criss-crossing and intersecting at the spine. They link the seven centers in a pattern strikingly similar to the DNA double helix represented in the Caduceus, the healing staff of the messenger god Mercury, familiar now as the symbol of modern medicine.

In Yes, AND . . . I underscored that chakras are NOT merely myths or stories.

Ancient Himalayan sages mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras (“wheels).” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment.

. . . Though recorded in ancient scripture, sages experienced vibrant spinning wheels of energy in deep meditative states as a fact of inner reality. Their reports are not the same as poetic symbolism, mythology or parable. Chakras exist as literal fact, integral to inner life as an experience which can and has been replicated by countless practitioners over time.

Chakras as energetic concept are key to the process of psychological transformation. I address the middle, e = mc2 level of the universal Life Wheel in The Gatekeeper and the consequences of psychology’s blind spot in Paradigms are a Matter of Life or Death. In The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street, I put Jacob’s Ladder in this larger context.

Bottom line: mystical experiences and genuine psychological transformation are not accomplished by mental speculation or even acts of sheer will power. They occur in the deeper layers of the Life Wheel which have, disastrously, been made taboo in Western civilizations. Einstein called the blind spot “the fateful fear of metaphysics.” The fateful-fear of self-awareness comes in its train, sometimes justified, most often times NOT.

Descriptions of heaven’s gates opening and unfolding lotus flowers come straight out of the ancient Vedas. The seventh chakra located above the head is described as a Thousand Petaled Lotus. To mystic vision, it looks something like this:

crown chakra x 4

Chakras, again, are “spinning wheels of light.” Seven basic ones are aligned along the human spine. In ascending order, each is associated with an increasingly more sophisticated developmental stage, state of consciousness and related psychological issues. Here is a brief description of the crown chakra:

The 7th or crown chakra is located at the top of the head and is related to the induction of spiritual energy into the body. Said to control every aspect of the body and mind, it is associated with full enlightenment and union with God. This chakra is normally not fully opened in most humans, although pictures of saints and other spiritual beings with”halos” are depictions of activated crown chakras.

Here’s a picture of all seven, putting the heavenly ruling seventh center in context:

chakras

In the creative process, the non-physical precedes and drives the physical. Western psychologists therefore would benefit greatly from understanding the correlations of each subtle energetic center with resultant mental and biological conditions. Put the other way, lacking this foundation, their understanding of human nature is seriously skewed.

The other six are briefly described:

  • The 1st or root chakra, located at the base of the spine, is involved with the physical process of elimination and the organs that work with that function. It is the chakra associated with the emotional energy of survival, as well as with grounding to the physical plane.
  • The 2nd or sacral chakra is located about three inches below the navel. This chakra corresponds to sexual energy and the reproductive organs. It is also associated with creativity and intrinsic life force.
  • The 3rd or solar-plexus chakra is located at the navel and several inches above. Its energy is associated to digestion and the digestive organs, personal power, and self mastery.
  • The 4th or heart chakra it located in the center of the chest. On the physical level, it works with the lungs and heart. On the emotional level, it works with the energy of compassion and love.
  • The 5th or throat chakra is located in the throat area, at the base of the neck. It is the chakra that is involved with the process of communication, speech, and hearing. The ears are associated with this chakra, as well as the vocal apparatus.
  • The 6th or brow chakra is located in the center of the forehead, between and slightly above the eyes. Often called “the third eye,” it is associated with imagination and psychic abilities, along with mental activity and brain function.

We are not completely out of tune with the effects of chakras, although due to taboos on conscious awareness, we experience them for the most part subliminally, sometimes at the hands of skillful, unscrupulous exploiters.

For one thing, differences amongst therapeutic approaches is proof of differences in chakra orientation. A lateral view of chakras aligned along the spinal column reflects the qualitative differences in focus (Dr. Peterson calls them temperaments) amongst well-known  psychologists.

invisible geometry sized

In addition, as described earlier:

. . the Western way of ignoring and denying the reality and influence of chakras makes life’s journey far more difficult than need be. But it can’t and doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. Despite scientific prohibitions, most of us still have glimpses of transcendent experience, most often through the arts.

For example, music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music have been described as The Mozart Effect.

In addition, the (albeit too-often unconscious) effect of the chakras on human experience is particularly strong in the visual arts, including the full spectrum from fashion and home-making to interior design, architecture and fine arts. This in due in large part to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.

closing

JBP’s Jacob’s Ladder Part I lecture compels two spin-off blogs. One will expand on the effects music has on health on each of the seven levels. Being composed of vibrations, it resonates with and activates the chakras, for better or worse. The other will address literary criticism, which Western civilization has backwards.

 

 

Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless

Jordan Peterson is drawing predictable backlash upon himself.

Though a clinical psychologist, he seems irrationally intent on attracting danger, while at the same time, logically, persuasively but incorrectly protesting that retreating from conflict when you shouldn’t “will cause self-annihilation.”

The qualifier is “when you shouldn’t.” Sun Tzu, reputed author of The Art of War, is keen on the importance of knowing when to make strategic retreats. There is, after all, a time and place for every purpose under heaven.

Second, what does he mean by “self-annihilation?” As righteous warriors grounded in Old Testament faith know full well, the true Self is indestructible. So also, savvy martial artists who are seeped in I Ching wisdom trust that true identity is neither enhanced nor diminished by the dance of advance and retreat.

So what’s really at stake in pressing forward against the tide, against the grain, against the laws of nature? Why vent rage, disgust and contempt at despicable, treacherous, venomous opponents? If he exposes and humiliates them, however much deserved, they will mirror his negativity back – in spades. It’s called backlash. Every action generates an opposite and equal reaction. It’s a natural law of psychological physics.

There are other, wiser ways to shift gears — address valid grievances on higher ground without attracting inevitable vengeful retaliation.

Persisting in upping the ante, provoking human snakes, smells like pride to me. Hubris, to be precise. The stuff of tragedy in the making.

I am afraid for this highly articulate but unin-formed professor.

Here’s an example of the inevitable retaliation and escalating conflict he has drawn not only into his own personal life, but also into his neighborhood — not to mention the media.

On October 26th, 2017, he posted on Twitter: Those who consider themselves my enemies have been posting these all around my home neighbourhood.

Here’s the poster:

jbp

I tweeted back, “What else would you expect?” Afterwards, I realized that without this explanation, the remark wouldn’t make sense. Hence, this blog of explanation.

Phoenix - sized

Please understand. I do not write to humiliate or diminish Dr. Peterson. Quite the opposite. He has become to the current generation of young people what John F. Kennedy was to mine. A symbol of nobility. Of hope.

I remember as painfully as if it were yesterday what it felt like to me and my friends when we heard the news that his brains had been splattered by an assassin’s bullet.

I dearly want that NOT to happen again.

I’m writing to warn Dr. Peterson. To suggest ways to protect himself, not only for his own sake and for his family’s, but for those to whom he has become a hero – who would be shattered were he to come to harm.

To plead with him to rethink the limited psychology which allows him to rationalize such intensely emotional, dangerous risk-taking.

I’m writing to urge him to add to his armory of psychologies the survival wisdom of Lao Tze and the foundational attitudes prescribed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Their teachings have guided the lives of truth seekers of thousands years. There must be something of value to recommend them, having withstood this test of time.

For example, Dr. Peterson knows not whereof he speaks when he says, “Don’t be harmless.

Is he intentionally rejecting ancient wisdom by this word choice, or is he unaware of the significance of this virtue in ancient lore?

Lao Tze, in fact, uses harmlessness as his defense. It’s a time-honored strategy.

Here is a famous drawing of Lao Tze riding his ox. He is credited with writing The Tao Te Ching, which next to the Bible is the world’s most often translated scripture. It shows the enlightened sage as so intricately merged with the beast which carries him that they appear inseparable. This image represents the higher mind which has tamed and harnessed the energy of emotions. He uses them to carry him towards his destination.

Lao Tze on Ox

I will give you a hint of this survival approach to dealing with snakes excerpted from Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change.

snake

Passage 50 reads, in part:

Those who live by the law are protected by it.

They travel the world without being injured.

In the midst of hostilities, no one knows where to attack.

Wild beasts sense no openings to penetrate.

Enemies find no weaknesses to exploit.

Armies can’t locate a fortress to assault.

This accords with the following section about harmlessness used as defense strategy.

Non-Violence

Taoists abhor selfish meddling and gratuitous violence as equally destructive to individuals, society and the environment.

In this, their thinking is in accord with the most fundamental tenet of the yoga. Non-violence is the virtue listed first among the commitments which constitute the fundamental basis of yoga disciplines. The attitude of harmlessness, or non-violence, is the prerequisite upon which all more advanced spiritual practices depend.

In Sutra 35 of Book II, Patanjali informs us that:

When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.

Similarly, in Passage 55 Lao Tze describes sages as being accomplished in the ways of the ancient yoga masters:

Sages who master the infant’s harmlessness:

don’t startle wasps or snakes, and therefore don’t get stung;

don’t threaten angry beasts, and therefore are left in peace;

don’t bother birds of prey and therefore aren’t carried off.

Lao Tze describes non-violence as the cornerstone of social stability. In Passage 68 he tells us:

The best leaders act with subtle dignity.

Successful warriors move with alert caution.

Enduring winners shun prideful vengeance.

Good employers quietly support their workers.

The way of non-violence is the supreme treasure of communities

founded in the eternal Tao.

book header bird

Again, let me emphasize that I wish Dr. Peterson all the best. May he live long and prosper. Let him put on the full armor of God for protection. Give him the wisdom to tame his righteous indignation with the discipline of a seasoned sage. Let him survive as a shining inspiration to those who have come to treasure his innate nobility.

As yet, for whatever reasons, he remains unresponsive. The Catch 22 seems to be that since I’m not a well-known public figure, he assumes he has no grounds for communication. In Don’t throw pearls before swine, he says, “You cannot talk to people who will not engage in a discussion.”

So be it. He says he had no desire to engage in the legislative issue that catapulted him to fame, but felt compelled to do so. In exactly the same way, I had no desire whatsoever to write these blogs, but felt deeply compelled to do so. Unfathomable but somehow irresistible.

Whatever the outcome, at least I’ve done my best. And having done so, leave the future in trust to God’s will.

Angel Calling

Yes, AND . . .

What follows is the irrefutable answer to bogus post-modernist views. Psychologists’ tool boxes are incomplete without it. Political theorists’ speculations are void.

Here’s the plan: I’ll give you the remedy up front, then paint with a broad brush its applications and implications. As a wrap up, I’ll ask why the answer has been overlooked, listing and dismissing arguments (prejudices) that have blinded us to this answer. A P.S. suggests why this post is longer than most.

The key I’m referring to is embedded in Asian teachings that predate Christ’s incarnation by thousands of years. (Mind you, this remedy in no way conflicts with his teachings. Quite the contrary. I’ll get back to this important point in good time.)

Interestingly, Jordan Peterson opened the door to acceptance of this investigation. In describing the classic Tai Chi Tu, the Chinese yin-yang symbol, he refuted the familiar objection that the idea is too abstract. It’s “not real” in the sense that it can’t be quantified or measured. He fired back, it’s hyper-real. It is the substratum which underlies and supports physical reality.

Tai Chi Tu

So too are the chakras. Ancient Hindus mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras (“wheels).” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment. (This opens up the subjects of Einstein, the science of human energy transformation, and psychologists as agents of positive change – all of which I’ll also get back to briefly later on.)

Though recorded in ancient scripture, sages experienced vibrant spinning wheels of energy in deep meditative states as a fact of inner reality. Their reports are not the same as poetic symbolism, mythology or parable. Chakras exist as literal fact, integral to inner life as an experience which can and has been replicated by countless practitioners over time.

Here’s the basic picture of seven subtle energy centers aligned along the spine. It sums up the evolutionary stages of human development from base to crown. Increasingly more sophisticated psychological states are assigned to each of the centers, as are specific emotions, endocrine glands, internal organs and life issues.

chakras

Albeit subtle (which is different from “abstract”), this image, like the DNA imprinting of cells, is intrinsic to the very structure of our souls. It includes both the vertical alignment of centers and their interdependence. Its hierarchal nature can no more be debated than can the importance of breathing. Further, the vital structure of inner organization naturally reflects outwardly, mirrored in analogous family and extended social relationships.

So. Arguments that hierarchical relationships are invalid or that value systems have been negated, however apparently seductive to some, are WRONG! FALSE! The image of chakra organization supports the conclusion drawn in Be an Instrument of Light:

God is not

and could not possibly be

dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof

of God’s existence.

Before you reflexively dismiss this imagery as foreign to Western thinking, let me remind you that, though overlooked, it is intrinsic to Western civilization’s deepest roots. The caduceus is associated with both Greek mythology and the Western medical profession. It serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences which are shared in common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.

Caduceus

In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.

(These twin currents regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which explains why focusing the eyes where they intersect at the nostrils evens the breath, calms the mind and heals the body.)

The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution. The wings atop the axis represent its integrating ruler: the crown chakra.

Another view brings it closer to home. Dr. Peterson also opened the door to this picture, which explains the different orientations (he calls them temperaments) amongst the psychologist’s approaches in his “tool box,” each applied at discretion according to individual client needs:

invisible geometry sized

This suggestive picture could be unpacked at length. For those familiar with psychological traditions, however, it speaks volumes unto itself.

The concept of Invisible Geometry, by the way, comes from comparative religion teacher Huston Smith, who wrote:

Twenty years ago I wrote a book, The Religions of Man, which presented the world’s enduring traditions in their individuality and variety. It has taken me until now to see how they converge. . . .

What then emerges is a remarkable unity underlying the surface variety. When we look at human bodies, what we normally notice is their surface features, which of course differ markedly. Meanwhile on the insides, the spines that support these motley physiognomies are structurally very much alike. It is the same with human outlooks. Outwardly they differ, but inwardly it is as if an “invisible geometry” has everywhere been working to shape them to a single truth.

Much is available on the web for those interested in researching the details. What’s relevant to the forward movement of this particular discussion is that this picture shows the innate hierarchal nature of human development and social organization. Not coincidentally, the highest center, associated with Christ consciousness, is called the crown center. It rules over all lesser states of being.

Next in line is the Ajna or Command Center, usually referred to as the “third eye.” It receives messages from above and coordinates functions of the lower centers.

In an article to be published in Prabuddha Bharata, I expanded:

Now, the Western way of ignoring and denying the reality and influence of chakras makes life’s journey far more difficult than need be. But it can’t and doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. Despite scientific prohibitions, most of us still have glimpses of transcendent experience, most often through the arts.

For example, music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music have been described as The Mozart Effect.

In addition, the (albeit too-often unconscious) effect of the chakras on human experience is particularly strong in the visual arts, including the full spectrum from fashion and home-making to interior design, architecture and fine arts. This in due in large part to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.

Yes, AND

The Yes, AND was originally a response to a JBP video: Bravo, JBP – But there’s more!”

Yes. This is necessary, but not sufficient. My work compliments and completes yours. Knowledge, as written elsewhere, is a two-way street.

Make no mistake. I’m a great fan.

But there’s more. I MUST hope and trust that, as the declared truth-seeker and teller that he is, he’ll welcome the opportunity to learn and grow.

In one video, JBP says he’s deliberately working to improve himself, taking advice from friends who advise when he comes on too angry, too this or that. But these comments are at the level of presentation. What I’m addressing is deeper and directional. One approach starts from the outside and works inwards. The other starts from the inside and radiates outwards.

As the medieval Great Debate detailed in The Highway to Heaven is a Two-Way Street concluded, there is no contradiction. Truth travels in an infinite loop, joining surface with center, highest to lowest. So, no matter where you start, you’ll eventually cover all the bases and arrive at the same destination.

I’m guessing that limits on his approach might be intentional — strategic and necessary. His options are restricted by the professional hats he wears as clinical psychologist and teaching professor at an established university.

Whatever the case, I am free to take the next steps.

book header bird

Here’s a good example of what I mean. The Youtube video How To Transform is packed with statements that beg to be unpacked – taken the logical next step that leads outside the domains of empirical science.

What got my immediate attention was his mention of the phoenix. That happens to be the subject of a book on my drawing board, The Phoenix Response.

Referring to sorting oneself out, Dr. Peterson says:

. . . you have to allow yourself to shake off those things about you that you might be pathologically attached to – habits and people, for that matter, ways of thinking . . .

Immediately I thought, Aha! Because Rethinking Survival is premised on an Einstein quote: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

But, continuing:

You have to allow yourself to shake those off. That’s more like a burning. That’s why the phoenix is the symbol. It’s old and it deteriorates, bursts into flame and then it’s reborn.

Well, do you want to be reborn? Do you want to burst into flame?

The answer to that generally is NO. But that’s the wrong answer. The right answer is, You let all that nonsense burn away.

Agreed. This is the hero’s journey, facing the challenges of Chapel Perilous, knowing that “the only way out is through.” Facing fears is part of the hero’s territory.

Here’s my summary or the phoenix book:

The phoenix is a mythical, magical fiery bird that recreates itself, repeatedly rising from its own ashes to begin life anew. An inspiration to self-healers, The Phoenix Response details the ultimate survival option that always remains open, even in a dangerous world which too often compels suicide.

Using time-tested methods, we can continue to repair and rejuvenate, even in the face of overwhelming stress. Yielding before life threats, we can die to the old – to be reborn IN THIS LIFETIME, over and over, each time better than before.

The Phoenix Response draws on universal wisdom written in every human heart, sought after as if lost, and esteemed as a priceless treasure by those who succeed in actualizing the hope of self-renewal.. . . anyone who deeply desires positive personal change can activate the archetypal Life Wheel, going deep within and returning to daily life again, transformed and renewed.

Just one sobering caution, however, before moving on. Ancient practices regarded each day as the microcosm of a life complete. They began and ended the day’s cycle with book-ends of prayer and preparation. Thus made themselves ready to meet the closings of larger-scale cycles whenever they should come, as prelude to the next day’s awakening.

Similarly, we can no more forestall the cyclical downturn we’re now engaged in than we could stop the sun and moon from making their rounds. Though the phoenix can usher in new beginnings, it knows better than to resist the call to transformation.

Politics and Unnatural Change

For a lighter angle, I’ll share the famous Upanishad story about blind men and an elephant as it applies to atheism. I refer to it in part to lay the groundwork for another application. I’m quoting from “The Ant and the Elephant,” a section in the “Atheism Answered” chapter of Rethinking Survival.

An ancient parable from India captures the dilemma of human inadequacy in the face of Truth. Five blind men were introduced to a gigantic elephant. After touching only one part, each reported his experience.

The one who embraced a leg said elephants are round and rough, like the trunk of a tree. The next, who felt a tusk, said elephants are hard and sharp, like a sword. The one who felt an ear described elephants as thin, flat and flexible like a fan. The next, who grabbed hold of the tail, was certain elephants are like ropes, perhaps even whips. The last, who felt its belly concluded that elephants are thick and heavy, like walls.

blindmen & elephant

Now add to the mix a contemporary riddle which captures the humor of human gropings. Question: “What is the height of ambition?” Answer: “An ant climbing up an elephant’s leg with sex on its mind.”

Next question: “What’s the height of fulfillment?” Answer: “The ant climbing back down the elephant’s leg with a smile on its face.”

Just so, we’re like blind beggars, groping towards fulfillment and comprehension of universal Truth. We mistakenly generalize our partial perceptions of a reality which none can see in entirety. We’re like ants who aspire far beyond our limits, sometimes fortunate enough to enjoy a taste of satisfaction.

Heated arguments between religionists and atheists are equally noisy, short-sighted and futile. Each disputant has a partial piece of the larger puzzle. But only that. Their antics — posturings and posings — would be comical, were it not for the extraordinary waste of time and energy lost to creative endeavors.

Atheists who deny the existence of God are equally ignorant and silly. They might as well argue that atoms have no nucleus, or that the solar system has no sun. It’s like ants presuming to deny the existence of elephants.

Their superficial (often angry, self-pitying and self-serving) arguments have no affect whatsoever on the eternal center which always was, IS, and always will be.

Have authority-cloaked religionists, for thousands of years, abused the name of God to excuse abuse of power, claiming divine rights for human rulers — be it European kings, Chinese emperors, Russian tzars, Arabian caliphs, or whomever? Certainly.

Have their enemies repeatedly wrested temporal power away from its holders, only to abuse it in even worse ways themselves? Definitely.

Have humans suffered unspeakable cruelties and injustices at the hands of fellow humans from time immemorial? Sadly so. Continuous upheavals on the surface of the wheel are part of life. It’s nothing new.

But the existence of the unchanging silent center continues into infinity, regardless of what’s happening at the surface. Whether you honor it with awe in simple silence or choose a particular name for it makes no difference. It remains the same.

If you’re totally disillusioned by bad luck or the particular version of religion enforced by your elders, your quarrel is with the ways of the world and its human institutions. Your misfortunes don’t reflect on the Creator’s existence, which is a different subject. God continues to broadcast. Whether you listen remains your choice, the exercise of God-given Free Will.

Here’s a quick summary critique of Saul Alinsky’s concept of “change.” It’s literally antithetical to the Natural Law embodied in the Chinese Book of Change.

It would seem that Edward Bernays — the so-called “father of spin” — was a foremost henchman of the invading aliens. If so, Saul Alinsky was their number one point man. The “coach” was a self-proclaimed radical.

In a twist of our poor abused language, Christ was rightly regarded as “radical” in his day. He would be today as well (in the original meaning) were he to walk among us now, because “radical” originally meant “going to the foundation or source of something; fundamental.”

That’s a far cry from Alinsky’s extremist meaning of “radical.” He was intentionally the antithesis of Christ, going so far as to acknowledge Lucifer in the dedication to Rules for Radicals: ‘the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.’

His logic is so twisted that a critique would have to move line-by-line to unravel his spiderweb of tangled assumptions. The attempt would be like wading in quicksand. A Jesuit-trained logician would be hard-pressed to come out clean. Yet Rules for Radicals is sometimes made required reading for impressionable teenagers.

In the first chapter, Alinsky stated his exact purpose, namely to coach those who “want to change the world” from what it is “to what they believe it should be.”

In this book we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people. . . We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world . . [emphasis added.]

Here’s part of my analysis:

Note the use of the “royal we.” This is a megalomaniac talking. He wants to change the entire world. His attitude is towards power holders is openly aggressive. He doesn’t just want to take what they hold. He wants to seize it. To violently “change the world” by means of a “mass power organization” makes no positive sense. History tells us that repeatedly, when power is seized from one set of Haves, it merely passes to another set of worse ones. Never, ever has it been “given” to “the people.” This assumption-packed premise is an extraordinary feat of tragedy-fraught hubris.

First off, what blind, ant-like mortal would dare to think that he can comprehend what, in its entirety, the world — the elephant — really is? What human could possibly be so foolish as to think she is qualified — on the basis of one puny view — to judge what it should be? Alinksy’s rules extended an invitation for blind mortals to jump in feet first where good angels know far better than to tread.

Second, who really understands change? Many bandy the word about. But it’s a profound science of which few have in-depth knowledge. Confucius dedicated a lifetime to understanding the dynamics of Natural Law encoded in the perennial Book of Change.

So, for starters, the “belief” that anyone can change the world from what he assumes it is to what he assumes it should be is unspeakably misguided. Building on this false premise, Alinsky then fueled the undermining alien arsenal with a full battery of destructive tactics. In essence, political radicals should feel “free” to violate the ten commandments. The ends (getting what you want) justify any means.

His version of social change is engineered by stirring up conflict. Use fabricated information to bear false witness against inconvenient neighbors. Alinsky advocates scapegoating, not unlike the dynamic which propelled Nazis to power. Create the illusion of an outside enemy as the way to unify your base. (How is that for the ultimate double-speak? Conflict is the opposite of unity.)

Transformation and Psychologists

Looking back on the story of blind men and the elephant, I now recognize that the seers who told this story were alluding to the chakras, telling us that the world looks very different, depending upon which set of filters you’re seeing through.

That’s why, for example, the world seen through the first chakra makes sense to a behaviorist like Skinner. Whereas, seen through a more evolved lens, human potentials look quite different. Thus, in The Carl Rogers Reader we find this prophetic comparison:

Skinner argued for the intelligent and hopefully humane use of reinforcement theory to direct the course of the individual’s and the society’s development. . . freedom and choice are mere illusions. . . Rogers argued that freedom and choice were not illusory but real phenomena, and that a science that dehumanizes the individual and attempts to control human development paves the way for dictators and despots to move society inexorably toward a totalitarian, Orwellian future.

Now, it’s important that Jordan Peterson holds Rogers in high regard. The video called A Psychotherapist Is An Engineer Of The Soul is well worth quoting:

. . . read the damn therapists, man. Those people were smart. It’s like each of them gives you a different tool box. They’re not scientific theories, exactly.

But as a clinician, you’re not a scientist. You’re an engineer of the soul. That’s a better way of thinking about it. Because it’s applied. It’s like engineering. It’s an applied science. So that makes it not a science exactly. You can use scientific knowledge. But you’re still aiming at the good. Right? That’s what you are doing as a therapist.

You say, Look. You already know that things aren’t as good as they need to be. We’re going to work on that. We’re here to make things better. And I’m going to help you figure out how to make things better. Then I’ll listen to you. And we’ll move towards some place that’s lighter and better.

Then you have tools you can use. Those great psychotherapists, man. Those people had their 10,000 hours. They all come at it from slightly different temperamental perspectives. [chakra filters!] Like Jung’s work is really useful for dealing with people who are high in openness. You have an open client? Jung works. If you have a conservative client, forget it. It’s a whole different thing.

His attitude reaffirms the conclusion drawn in Therapists as Positive Change Agents. Given Alinsky’s nefarious influence on politicians and governments, you don’t dare look to them for positive change. Nor to religionists with their scripture-defying double-talk about “social justice.”

Filling a glaring need, therapists have been obliged to take on that important role:

In the past, those in psychological pain, suffering from self-doubt and looking for a better way to live, would have turned to sages or kings for guidance. At this stage in history, however, therapists as healers (meaning “to make whole”) are often the best secular refuge.

Just imagine, if you will, how even more effective they’d be if they added chakras and the Natural Law of Change to their tool chests.

Why Asian Sciences Are Overlooked and Undervalued

Many in the West devalue Asian teachings, though in some ways, they are more sophisticated than our own. Their sages obtained knowledge from the inside, in prayer and meditation. Unfortunately, this inward focus, taken to yin extremes, explains the material poverty of the masses, which materialist Westerners find abhorrent.

But extreme-yang Westerners swing to the opposite and equal mistake. Making a deity of empirical science, they acknowledge only the “reality” of that which can be quantified and measured. As a result, generally speaking, the vast majority enjoy a relatively high standard of living, but suffer terribly from spiritual poverty.

Here’s a picture of the way each approach fractures the Life Wheel. Extreme yin religionists value the center of the Life Wheel to the exclusion of the material surface. Extreme yang materialists go the other way, valuing material wealth while denying, if not defying, the existence of its Creator.

extremes

Reminiscent of the Hindu parable, extremists are blind to the whole, mistaking a limited experience of a part for all there is. Asians, atheists, theists all have partial understandings of reality.

Now, Christ did not make this mistake, though Western religionists who call themselves Christians often do. Nor could he possibly have sanctioned the out-of-hand rejection of Asian wisdom as if pagan and therefore “unChristian.”

I’ve been told by one who knows, OA, that few people actually understood what Christ was about during his lifetime. Even fewer can claim to completely fathom the vastness of his essence now. But surely, to the extent ancient teachings contain part of universal Truth, they partake of Christ’s essence. For Christ Consciousness pervades the entire field of creation, the full chakra spectrum of potential experience.

Since, as he told us, he existed before and will endure after this Earth, permeating the entire world, how could the truth teachings of distant times and civilizations not be part of Christ? I love this cartoon, in which the Christ corrects the blind men. He gets it! (Now it’s up to the rest of us to take the hint!)

christ & elephant

So let’s drop bogus excuses for overlooking the validity of Asian teaching. They speak to fatal blind spots in Western knowledge banks. They are no more foreign or outdated than are the teachings held up to us as the foundations of Western civilization. To reject them is to forfeit the immeasurable benefits to be gained from restoring that yin part of the metaphorical elephant to our yang arsenal.

It’s the abuse of the teachings, the corruption that has occurred in every time and place, the overlay of dross and foolishness which we must shed. Do this to let pristine Truth rise once more out of the ashes of outworn customs, ignorant prejudices and greedy exploitation.

Wheel2

Wheels within wheels within wheels. Got the picture? : )

Now, here’s what I’ve been trying to get across to JBP in one form or another. Christ, like many before and after him – from ancient Hindus to Mayans – spoke about end times. However detestable, like Judas, today’s postmodernist neo-Marxists have role to play. Crossing swords with them isn’t the Phoenix way of redemption.

The irrefutable answer to bogus postmodernist views is helpful only in so far as it used to prevent deceivers from confusing those who serve truth. It’s not going to “change” the course of history as it has long been foretold.

Resigning oneself to the inevitable crash and burn of civilization is a sad but necessary preliminary step which must be endured as the prelude to its rebirth. Titanic-like victims have chosen to take a joy ride on an ill-equipped, fated ship. Squandering regretful attention on their fate is fruitless. The wiser to choice is to devote limited resources of time and attention to what can be redeemed.

Christ compared today’s end times to the fate of Noah’s civilization. The wise heeded warnings and survived. Fools partied on, oblivious to danger until the flood waters rose up to carry them off. Now as then, those deaf to calling and hardened against Truth will choose to party on, oblivious. It’s their choice. And their consequences.

Let us, instead, choose to follow Noah’s example. Prepare for what coming. Preserve the timeless teachings and protect those willing to listen and follow Truth. The process necessarily begins one person at a the time, living according to a complete and accurate reality paradigm in which yin and yang ways of knowing complete each other, bringing the music of life once again into harmony.

Angel Calling

P.S.

There’s necessity to the length of this post. It’s the last for now, so I’ve reduced the content of what might otherwise have been four separate pieces, to include everything that wanted to be said. As it stands, writing takes too much out of me, for too little in return. I’ll consolidate past work into a book, whose whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. But unless balance is restored in terms of feedback, the rest must remain unsaid.

 

The Heart Doesn’t Lie

Here’s the dilemma.

The education/information business is an overwhelmingly noisy market place. How can a humble writer with a calling hope to be heard? Is there a way to cut through the cluttered field of competitors out merely to make a big name and bigger buck?

The dark-side method to media madness is that mind-numbing clutter shuts intelligence down. Technology has made it too easy for anyone with a political ax to grind – any agenda however nonsensical or vicious – to build a platform.

The protective, instructive voice of conscience, however, resides in stillness. If people don’t value and have the skills to cultivate peace of mind, they can’t hear conscience. They forfeit the ability to practice conscious discrimination in the original, pristine and positive meaning of the term. They’re rendered helpless, unable to know the difference between true and false messengers.

The logical balance to extreme complexity is to return to utmost simplicity. Scriptures advise, Be still and KNOW, I am God. Listen to the heart of hearts. Not noisy, needy emotions, mind you. But the silent unerring voice of Conscience. It never lies.

You can run. Hide. Deny it. Deceive yourself. But the heart of hearts . . if you have the courage and self-honesty to listen . . . really listen . . never lies. It can’t. It is at one with the truth. Always was. Always will be.

listen with the heart

So this is a call to conscience. Listen with your heart. It will not fool you as to who is who, or what is what.

My immediate dilemma is this. I need to effectively persuade Jordan B. Peterson that I continue to extend cordial greetings him in good faith. That I am a messenger come to meet him half way in good will, offering hard-earned and extraordinarily useful information that completes (neither challenges, competes with nor diminishes) his admirable accomplishments.

That, from opposite sides a perceptual continuum, each us working to complete the same good work. That I persist in communicating because I am listening, without projecting or anticipating outcomes. Simply because it seems like the thing to do.

Naturally, he must be suspicious. And, being very busy, is a bit too quick to judge, assuming the usual worst. Surely his twitter account is inundated with off-the-wall comments.

After a recent post, Fresh Start, I tweeted to Dr. Peterson,“Young women are just as much at risk as young men!” together with the link.

Apparently he didn’t look at my post, but instead on September 27th posted to his account the link to a video I’d already seen, as if to refute a perceived criticism. The header: “More than half a million people have watched this clip: Every young woman needs to see this!”

The video speaks to the idealized mother-child relationship as foundational to civilization, one that is being undermined by demanding careers.

Had he taken my sentence in the context of the full paragraph, the motherhood vs. career issue wouldn’t have seemed the right response.

Here’s the sentence in context:

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

So I responded, “Yes, BUT . . .”

Among others, one woman commented: “. . you would have a bigger female following if you made more aimed at women.”

A masculine comment reads: “You’re a warrior Prof. An example for us all, keep fighting the good fight.”

My point: Dr. Peterson has tapped into a crying unanswered need. He speaks to it admirably, but only partially. Nor could more be expected of any one person.

I didn’t say there’s no discussion about women. Rather, that the perspective is intensely yang in presentation. From a young man’s point of view, the professor is “an example for us all” (meaning all young men?) of fighting the good fight. Great. We need that.

The woman’s comment, however, also carries weight. More attention to women’s needs would attract a larger female following. Just not from the same, intensely yang perspective, please. It’s not female bodies that are underrepresented so much as the calm, quiet state of mind which is receptive to inner knowing – an energy valence, if you will, which Asians call “yin.”

When I responded with “Yes, BUT . . ,” what I meant to say is that there’s more to women [and men] than the either/or choice between reproduction/family versus lucrative careers. There’s whole universes of other options to choose from, not just the extremes of virgin mothers versus snake-headed monsters. I can tell you this from personal experience, having traded all other opportunities and resources to put the books on the shelves for others that were missing when I dearly needed them.

As a woman, I’ve experienced first hand the consequences of being given equally false either/or choices. But the fact remains, no matter how punitively society dictates to the contrary, like some men, some women are truth seekers. Philosophers. Fascinated by history and alarmed at the course of current events. Who speaks to them? What are their options?

Sigh. I didn’t even bother to tweet out the last post, Be an Instrument of Light, even though I thought it one of my best.

My ordinary rational mind asks, Why bother? Why not focus on winning a lottery? Carry on with daily routines without the fuss and frustration of writing. The odds of a breakthrough are probably about the same, if not better.

But then that pesky inner voice (Dr. Peterson likens it to Pinocchio’s Cricket) answers me back. “Why bother? Because to survive what’s roaring down the pike at breakneck speed, young people, male and female alike, desperately need the complementary view which balances Dr. Peterson’s example, without which results (like the percentages of his following) would continue to be skewed.” (More on this later, in a separate post, Yes, AND . . )

For now, let me share the ongoing dilemma expressed from anther, earlier angle.

To tell the truth - image

Bogus claims . . . remind me of the long-running TV game show, “To Tell the Truth.” In this format, three challengers are introduced to a celebrity panel, each claiming to be the featured guest. Impostors can lie and pretend to be the central character. Only the real one is sworn to tell the truth. Panelists are challenged to ask penetrating questions, see through deceptions, and correctly identify the truth teller.

In this game reality, the best liars are rewarded. But that’s not how it works in the real world. There’s nothing entertaining or ultimately rewarding about deceiving the public. Yet, at this stage of history, it’s nigh unto impossible for all but the most discriminating (in the positive sense) to tell the difference between imitators and the “real deal.” Shameless parodies of wisdom traditions abound.

Hucksters out to make a quick fortune while basking in their 15-minutes of fame misrepresent both their intentions and abilities. The sure-fire get-rich formula “spiritual” entrepreneurs use is to tap into people’s deepest desires and fears. Associate your product with an accepted wisdom tradition to piggy-back on its credibility. On the one hand, offer gullible marks whatever they want; on the other, guarantee protection from the consequences of stupidity.

In a crowded market place full of unscrupulous pretenders, how do messengers of substance and integrity stand out from the noisy crowd? Even screaming isn’t heard over the ruckus.

The only option is to play by the rules – quietly, persistently Tell the Truth.

To Tell the Truth” is the longest-running show in history. It’s not a game, however, nor is it for the faint of heart and spirit. But human survival is at stake.

11th hour

From another angle, I’m concerned that generosity to a fault puts our good warrior Prof at risk of distraction, if not burnout. I’m mindful of a Sufi saying that I’ve found useful as a standard for allocating positive attention:

Sufi saying sized

Put another way, after a certain point, debating noisy protesters and exposing seemingly endless corruption is a bit like wading in quicksand. It’s not good for peace of mind. There are far more important things to do, more productive uses of precious time and attention.

Ah! Perhaps this is what you mean by refusing to play their game.

Ain’t Playing Their Game

Angel Calling

The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street

jacob's ladder

Balance yin and yang approaches to solving your problems. It gets better results.

Jordan B. Peterson gives a good example. Early in their marriage, when conflicts arose, he wanted to argue. His wife, however, would turn over and go to sleep. When she awoke, she reported insightful dreams which helped resolve their issues.

Dreams, as you’ll recall, are associated with the middle, Gatekeeper level of the Life Wheel which links the yang surface with inward, yin levels of intuition and conscience.

I’m well familiar with her problem-solving method, as well as how it compliments his.

Here’s an example from my graduate school experience. An Educational Administration professor wanted to know, “Why are there so few women principals in school administration?”

To me, the answer was intuitively obvious. Women teachers get no support. If they received support from family and school administrators, I told him, more would be promoted.

Two years later, after an extensive review of the research literature and a statistical study yielding 99 percent statistically significant results, these yang methods confirmed my yin intuition. My stats prof was amazed at the high probability correlations. Most of his students got garbage results. How did I manage to get significant ones, he wanted to know. And how did I explain the unusually high response rate?

Well. For one thing, because I already “knew” the answer, I knew where to look and what to ask. All I had to do was design a study that allowed the evidence to come forward. In addition, in the statistical portion of the questionnaire, I limited myself to the kinds of questions which statistics can measure. To obtain information about subjective values, I asked open-ended questions requiring written responses.

Finally, the form itself was non-threatening, attractively presented on light blue paper. I used plain language. I intentionally made the content intriguing —  even fun.

Now, for me, empirical methods are an unnecessarily complicated way to arrive at an answer. But we got to the same place, just the same.

The difference between these yin and yang approaches explains the particular value I have to offer in matters philosophical. My yin perspective compliments Dr. Peterson’s yang presentation.

We share in common a desire to understand human nature. In college, my question was, what educational discipline was the best route to answers. Psychology might have been the logical choice. But a discipline that categorizes using statistical methods (often based on rat and monkey research) left me cold.

B.F. Skinner’s presentation as a guest lecturer at Oberlin decided the issue. In his general presentation, he described toilet-training his daughter using music, so her associations would be pleasant. In the question and answer session that followed, a student asked, “What happens the first time she goes to a concert?”

No answer.

Skinner’s work has an important place, no doubt. But as teachings acquired later confirm, it focuses exclusively on behavior – a first chakra center issue. There had to be more! In addition to inhabiting physical bodies constrained within socially conditioned environments, humans have rational minds, hearts capable of empathy, creative aspirations, and, yes – souls.

So for my understanding of humans, I opted to major in comparative history rather than “science,” rounded out in equal parts by philosophy and comparative literature courses.

The places I looked for answers gave me different approaches to the devastating division between faith and empirical science. The Life Wheel described in The Key That Reconciles Science & Religion came both before and after the history course described below.

Critics have complained that its wheels-within-wheels geometry is “too abstract” and unaccessible. In thinking it through, however, I’ve concluded that the problem lies not with the concept. Rather, alienated yang intellects obscure the yin mind which intuitively grasps non-verbal truths.

From personal experience, I know that the Life Wheel is natural and intuitive. Going through puberty, I spontaneously started drawing wheels with multi-colored pencils. Without naming a reason or purpose for doing so, I filled notebooks with mandala-like geometric flowers circling outwards from a center, building layers upon layers.

childish

My step-father thought I was an artist. But it had nothing to do with professional calling. I was going through a natural change. My consciousness was blossoming, expressing itself in the non-verbal language common to native cultures from the beginnings of time. Native Americans draw prayer wheels.

Native American

Buddhists create intricate mandalas with colored sands.

buddhist

Medieval architects built radiantly multi-colored stained glass windows into their cathedrals.

Mandala1

Later, I felt compelled to return to the Life Wheel. As I applied left-brain reasoning to penetrate its meaning, it continued to develop, changing into a diagnostic and decision-making tool, a means of linguistic analysis, a zodiac-like measure of time, and more.

It’s not concentric circles that are too abstract. Quite the contrary, this primal way of understanding has been forgotten by isolated intellectuals out of touch with their universal roots.

In The Key that Reconciles Science & Religion, I showed how the Life Wheel reconciles the conflict which Nietzsche, later Jung and then Dr. Peterson, describe as devastating. I quoted Dr. Peterson, who assures us that “there’s much more to ‘reality’ than current assumptions allow.”

What follows is taken from an earlier post that draws on my history background. Snippet quotes are a spoiler alert intended to intrigue you into reading the rest.

closing

  • Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

  • According to St. Aquinas, It works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

  • As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

  • At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome is pictured by the Positive Paradigm of Change in the form of a multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

  • Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated? Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

book header bird

The GREAT RECONCILIATION

Like Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise are remembered in as tragic lovers separated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Here are the highlights from medieval history. Abelard, a monk, was rich-girl Heloise’s tutor. He seduced her. Their affair outed when she became pregnant. Her uncle exacted poetic justice: the offending lover was attacked in the night and castrated. Afterwards, the lovers exchanged celebrated letters, but were never reunited.

The low lights are usually overlooked. In fact, Abelard married Heloise. But to protect his reputation as a cleric, kept it secret. He urged her to take monastic vows, which she did, but under protest. She felt no calling. For her, living a cloistered life was most unfair.

Why is this story is relevant to the ongoing discussion about the Rules of the Knowledge Game? Because Abelard later distinguished himself a participant in The Great Debate of the Middle Ages.

During my Freshman year at Oberlin College, Professor Barry McGill presented the debate with style and passion. Tall, pencil-thin, graying and bespectacled, he dramatized the effect of pendulum swings on history.

Ideas, he insisted, have great power. They alter the course of human events. In particular, philosophers’ beliefs profoundly affect the forms governments take and the way leaders treat their people.

Long before Hegel wrote about dialectics, which in turn influenced Marx. a triad of medieval scholars — St. Augustine, our sadly altered Abelard, and St. Aquinas — completed the classic example of contrasting beliefs about What Can Be Known, How, and By Whom (epistemology).

St. Augustine sat on one extreme of the philosophical see-saw. Abelard perched on the other. The intellectual world was at odds until St. Aquinas came up with the balancing fulcrum.

see saw

St. Augustine’s approach was faith-based. He depended exclusively on his belief in God. In his worldview, knowledge is the result of divine grace. His credo: “I believe that I may know.” Faith in God is prior and necessary to human endeavors.

In Life Wheel context, Augustine’s primary reality rested at the center of the Wheel and extended outwards from it to include the surface of the physical, manifested world.

Abelard took the opposite approach. Man, he held, depends on observable things and tangible experience to acquire knowledge. This approach, taken to the extreme, results in the exclusively superficial, materialistic paradigm of research science.

Importantly, however, Abelard never denied the existence of God. He held that experience of the world leads the thoughtful man to deduce the necessary existence of God. In Life Wheel context, he started at the Wheel’s surface and pushed inwards to complete the circuit.

It took St. Aquinas to complete the loop. He concluded there is no conflict between the other two approaches. Knowing is a two-way street. No matter where you start, each position leads to and completes the other, reconnecting heaven and earth, center with surface. Complete knowledge flows continuously along the path of an infinite loop.

According to St. Aquinas, it works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated?

Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

CONCLUSION

Allow me to point out a relevant conclusion from the sad story of Abelard and Heloise. Today’s exclusively rational philosophers are as sterile as was he. And Heloise’s feminine counter-parts, isolated and cloistered, are equally unfulfilled. Just as yin and yang yearn for unity and the fulfillment of creative balance, so also faith and reason depend upon one another for completion.

As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome has been summed up in the Positive Paradigm of Change and illustrated in the form of its multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

Here’s why it is so critically important to reconnect the surface with the center of the Life Wheel in an infinite two-way loop, joining the material surface with its innermost source. The times in history when the rules of the knowledge game allowed creative thinkers to access both sides of the infinite, two-way street were times of renaissance that saw huge outpourings of invention, commerce, arts and learning.

The renaissance at the end of the middle ages, first in Italy and later in England represented by Elizabeth I’s Shakespeare, were times of paradigm shifts. The origin of universities took place during this time. The rules were in flux. It was fair game to access both sides of the coin, so to speak. There was no perceived conflict between faith and reason. Separation of church and state was a non-existent issue. The result was a time of creative flowering in both the arts and sciences.

Our future may well depend upon

whether or not there’s a similar Positive Paradigm shift now . . .

It will take a reconciliation and reawakening

to the full spectrum of human potentials

to generate a flourishing of creative problem-solving

sufficient to tip the scales of history

in favor of human survival.

Phoenix - sized

N.B. “Re-nasissance” = “rebirth.”

Phoenix rising from its own ashes. Got it? : )

Respect vs OPOs

Namaste1

Without a complete and accurate paradigm, one centered around the universal essence of existence which everyone everywhere shares in common, how can one respect oneself, much less others?

In Life Wheel context, essential respect rests at the center of the Wheel, ever the same, despite the fact that it is ruled out in dangerously incomplete and inaccurate belief systems.

Sadly, we train our young people to base their self-respect on other people’s opinions. Ah. The dreaded OPOs.

Why? Does your survival depend on them? Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. Do you let your self-respect go up and down with them? If so, life’s a rocky ride indeed. For OPOs are as fickle as any Hollywood fad.

Dependence on OPOs leads to this: mobs protesting in the streets, demanding respect while showing none for others. It’s oxy-moronic. A stupid contraction in terms. Look it up. Moron, meaning stupid, is actually part of the word’s Greek root.

Respect on what level, and for what? People unaware of their eternal soul define themselves in terms of their looks, or belongings, or social status. Or their feelings. But these are in continuous flux. They’re as changeable as the daily weather.

As for other people’s opinions. Most often they are a hodge-podge of assumptions, media-influenced “facts,” and mindlessly absorbed cultural conditioning. For the most part, they are myopically self-serving.

But the eternal soul? Ah. That’s something of substance one can depend on, in all weather, that never goes out of fashion.

Here’s a picture worth a thousand words:

Respect in the Center

It suggests that perhaps self-respect might well be based on achievement of consciously chosen goals, ones consistent with the welfare of all. Or living true to conscience, no matter what.

Respect for others on the surface level of results would depend on the same standard held for oneself – ability to choose and work consistently towards the achievement worthy goals.

The Book of Change describes the Self-Possession demonstrated by true leaders.

Great leaders demonstrate the SELF-POSSESSION to remain true to what they know is right despite all hardships. They act gently but fairly with others. Because they are consciously in harmony with the source of creative power, they express ideas brilliantly.

And another picture worth many words:

Namaste2

Essay 53 from Conscience weighs the balance in favor of inward-based and mutual respect:

Essay 53. RESPECT

Through the text runs a moral thread, which foreshadows the most noble ideals of Confucianism: A respect for the Natural Order, an esteem for self-cultivation, and a sense of social justice. — Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching

As long as companies think of employees as costs rather than assets, they will always be tempted to reduce the costs rather than invest further in the assets by providing safety nets for health care, retirement, and all the things that help people to get through their lives with dignity. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Our respect for ourselves determines (a) the amount of respect we crave from others and (b) our need to push for control and dominance. . . when you are in a situation when you feel disrespected, it causes a negative response [as if] the outside world, through your ego, is your only source of psychological support or nourishment. — David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone

THE FRONT

Roots of “respect” mean to look at, or look back on. Webster’s first definition is to feel or show honor or esteem for, to hold in high regard, or to treat with deference. It also means to show consideration for, to avoid intruding upon or interfering with, as to respect others’ privacy. It can mean a deference or dutiful regard, as in respect for the law. Respect is used to indicate courteous regard, as in respect for others’ feelings.

In the context of Affirmative Action objectives, respect refers to acceptance of diversity in public life, honoring each individual’s dignity and value, regardless of national origin, age, gender or personal beliefs. This implies more than an obligation to pay token lip service to legislation or an attitude of condescending tolerance. It supports the welcoming, embracing view that everyone has something of unique value to offer; that the whole is completed and enriched by contributions from every possible point of view.

In Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions alike, children are taught a reverence for all of life, extending not only to humans but nature as well. This includes creatures of the animal and insect kingdoms, as well as rivers and oceans, forests, mountains, deserts, jungles and even the air we breathe. Together they weave the fabric of life on earth, and evoke a commitment to maintaining the delicate balance of life-sustaining elements.

In corporate context, unfortunately, respect takes on the qualities of intimidation, fear of retribution, and enforced loyalty. In the context of inner city gang cultures, respect takes on intense meaning. The slang word “dis” means to disrespect. News stories tell of youth so outraged when strangers show disrespect that they kill for revenge. Their extreme desire for external show of personal respect changes to its extreme opposite, the ultimate show of disrespect for life.

Sages teach enduring respect for the timeless essence of all traditions, but do not hold onto particular forms of its expression after their usefulness has been outgrown. In Chinese history, the life span of successful dynasties was extended not by resisting change, but by embracing it.

When barbarians hordes assailed the empire’s gates, royal advisors, knowing that resistance was futile, recommended that the newcomers’ vitality be respectfully assimilated by mutually beneficial intermarriage of races and ideas.

When paradigms are in flux as new approaches are sought to answer new questions and meet new needs, messengers of change are often shot as if traitors by short-sighted, self-serving gatekeepers of the passing order.

This may impede progress, but cannot turn back the clock.

When the times are dangerous and the need for growth imperative, attempting to inhibit urgently necessary change is as dangerous to the civilization as is attempting to stop a mother’s labor pains once the birthing process has begun.

If, through our examples, we taught our children self-respect, self-awareness and a fearless respect for life, they’d experience no need to demand respect from others. Then disrespectful behavior would trigger not rage, but rather compassion and a commitment to uplift the ignorant and less fortunate.

THE BACK

Disrespect is the opposite of respect. Often it’s a product of sheer laziness and inattention. It can manifest as careless word choice or manner of dress. It’s reflected in failure to maintain one’s health, relationships, tools or property. This attitude is passed down through the generations and perpetuated by imitating bad examples.

The word respect is perverted when used in the context of Mafia-like extortion. It becomes a euphemism for submission due to extreme fear, the illusion of powerlessness and paralysis. Corrupt governments and organized crime rings which depend on passive acquiescence to stay in power are not respecters of life, nor do they receive of authentic respect.

The KEY That Reconciles Science & Religion

In Potential, a TEDxUofT presentation, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson pinpoints the historical cause of current mayhem: the rise of empirical science and its “shattering” effect on religious belief systems. As a result, our current definition of “reality” is dangerously skewed. He draws on Western poetry, psychology and the philosophy of religions “developed over thousands and thousands of years” to argue the case that there’s much more to “reality” than current assumptions allow:

If you follow the follow the thing that manifests to you as interesting, it will lead you through adversity, lead you to do things that are difficult [the hero’s journey] . . .

What will happen is that as you hit yourself against the world pursuing what you’re interested in, you’ll tap yourself into alignment. . . Your internal structure will become non-contradictory like the internal structure of a jewel, which is something that reflects light. It makes you hard and durable and able to bear the terrible conditions of existence without becoming corrupt.

He includes all the main elements of the Life Wheel. The “inner structure” consisting of conscience, light, strength, and unity of alignment – are all described in his linear description.

What I contribute to this vision is the picture of ever deepening concentric circles unified by an endlessly infinite loop that traverses and links them, center to surface and back to center.

In Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This, I describe the Wheel. It is not “new” nor is it arbitrary. It embodies the timeless healing solution to the relatively “modern” rift between materialist and philosophical definitions of “reality:”

The archetypal Life Wheel formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is a modern day descendant of the time-tested Book of Change which leaders in every field of endeavor have consulted for over eight-thousand years.

While true to the ancient teachings of India and China, it abstracts their essence in a simple and complete manner accessible to us today.

It places the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 mass, energy and light, on increasingly deeper levels within the Life Wheel. The result is the Unified Theory which Einstein already had, though didn’t know it.

PPoC gold

The three outer levels are interrelated and interdependent. Each is necessary but not sufficient. Their existence depends upon the unchanging hub of the Wheel. The true SELF — also called Conscience, the Tao or God — holds the spokes together as events on the Wheel’s surface rim change continuously. Creation in the form of primal consciousness emanates from and returns to this silent alpha-omega center.

This wheels-within-wheels model

is equally compatible with modern physics, yoga philosophy

and the world’s great religions.

It is a reality map upon which scientists and sages can agree.

Complete and accurate, it meets the Occam’s Razor standard by explaining the totality of human experience with maximum inclusiveness and utmost simplicity.

In Rethinking Survival, I connected with the idea that the Life Wheel is the answer to the ancient Upanishad question: “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” In essence, genuinely understood and implemented, it holds the KEY to Life.

The Positive Paradigm of Change can be personalized to facilitate positive personal change on all levels. Applied on increasingly larger scales of magnitude (to relationships, families, communities and organizations) it carries social implications in its wake.

According to Dr. Peterson:

Nietzsche said, “The person who has a Why can bear any How.” That’s a really useful thing to know. Because you think, well, we’re very vulnerable creatures. And our life ends catastrophically. Terrible things happen. How can we bear that?

The answer to that is, and always has been, that you have to be in synch with something that’s beyond you. Because that synchrony gives you the strength that you need to bear your terrible limitations.

The Life Wheel pictures the seat of Why and the place of How. It shows the eternal connection between individual, physically fragile life on the surface and the eternal Source within. However, the source of strength is not so much beyond as it is deep within:

The WHY at the center shines through every HOW, conforming WHAT on the surface to its inward vision:

  • Intuition fits within the WHY level of the Wheel. This innermost level of Light is associated with conscience, spiritual guidance and flashes of genius. Unless integrated with the ability to strategize and implement, however, vision and insights fail to manifest as practical results.
  • Emotions (including empathy) and strategy belong to the middle HOW level. The Energy layer is associated with action, street smarts and Emotional Intelligence. Magnetism and charisma emanate from this level, but unfortunately aren’t always integrated with integrity, intelligence or practical organizational skills.
  • Outcomes belong to the surface WHAT level associated with tangible, measurable results. The Mass layer is the realm of quantifiable IQ as well as biological family and social/political connections. Persona (mask) and personality are surface appearances. They don’t necessarily reflect actual motives and feelings. (This is why merely imitating the words and actions of great leaders doesn’t have the same affect).

Phoenix - sized

DYSFUNCTIONAL BELIEF SYSTEMS

Please stay with me. What follows isn’t necessarily sexy or fun. But it IS a matter of life or death. And the life it saves could be your own.

Technically, this subject comes under the philosophic umbrella of “epistemology” – the (highly politicized) rules of the knowledge game that prescribe who may know what, and how. Today, empirical science dictates that experience which is intangible and can’t be measured doesn’t exist – it isn’t real. In effect, conscience, intuition, compassion and gut feelings of the Life Wheel are ruled out. People who depend on those modes of knowing are invalidated and socially excluded.

Of course, saying inward modes of experience don’t (and shouldn’t) exist doesn’t make it true. As Carl Jung pointed out, repressing these intrinsic parts of the human psyche only has the effect of putting them outside of conscious awareness. Relegated to the “unconscious,” fragmented parts continue to operate out of reach, wreaking havoc on mental health, relationships and social systems.

Dr. Peterson is clear that our current course, driven by skewed belief systems, is fraught with dangers up to and including annihilation. In this, he echoes Albert Einstein, who, dreading the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, warned, “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Again, the Unified Theory and substantially improved (holistic) manner of thinking is hardly “new.” But it urgently needs to be restored to wide-spread, generally agreed-upon conscious awareness.

This urgency is underscored by Dr. Peterson’s point that competition between scientific and religious viewpoints resulted in large numbers of confused thinkers turning to substitutes for religion, especially to mass movements that are “erroneous in every way.”

Since the scientific age began, we’ve lived in a universe where the bottom strata of reality is considered to be something that’s dead like dirt. It’s matter. It’s objective. It’s external. There isn’t any element of it that lends reality to phenomena like meaning or purpose. That’s all been relegated to the subjective, and in some ways, to the illusory.

However, grave dangers flow from decisions and actions based on erroneous belief systems:

It really matters what you assume is most real, because you base the decisions you make that. You run the entire course of your life on those assumptions — whether you recognize it or not. And if you get the assumptions [basic axioms] wrong, or even if you leave them incomplete, you’re going to pay a big price for it.

Trade-offs have huge consequences:

The assumptions we use in our culture, although they’ve enabled us to develop a tremendously potent technology, are incomplete in ways that have cost us and that are extremely dangerous. . . A fair number of pathologies stem from assumptions of the systems they use to define reality.

Here is my visual representation of the hollow, incomplete reality brought about by empirical science. It rules out the middle and central inward levels of a complete and accurate belief system.

MaterialistAthest

And here is a representation of resulting pathologies. The levels are out of synch, fragmented and disjointed. In “The Second Coming,” the poet Yeats mourned, “the centre cannot hold.” In fact, it is the other way around. The eternal center is, was and will always remain steadfast. It is we who have distanced ourselves from truth, blinded ourself to awareness of the unchanging. At terrible cost.

Stress

CONCLUSION

In the right hands, championed by well-known truth-speakers like Jordan Peterson and by the legion of folks who have grown to know, respect and love him through his good work, the KEY concept offers the world a way out of madness, an alternative path to the current course that leads to destruction and hell.

The question remains, how many truly want a positive, healing reconciliation of science and religion? How many are closed and committed to the path of ultimate destruction?

The worst case scenario is that members of fragmenting, polarized, warring factions world-wide are content to remain “conveniently” blind and deaf. They salivate at the visceral excitement of conflict, not to mention the greedy side-benefit of violence – looting (think Nazis dispossessing the Jews, Stalin robbing Russia’s Orthodox Churches, and Chinese warlords filling their coffers from the spoils of Tibetan temples). Heedless of the ultimate consequences, all-too-many are committed to killing each other off in uncivil wars, reducing the structures of civilization to oblivion.

My best case scenario and remaining hope is that those with the foresight to prepare will prevail. May they stay safely under the radar as long as possible. May the Angel of Death pass over their dwellings. And may they also be ready to fight and WIN when the time calls for them to take a stand. For God will be with them as they were with the psalmist/healer King David in battle.

Angel Calling

Virtue – Rewards and Punishments

On a personal note, I’ll confess that the following was written because of an early morning dream. The previous night, being overwhelmed by the illusion of futility, I’d decided not to write further unless invited, and with a promise of financial reward attached.

But the dreaming mind knows better. I can’t recall how the dream started. What I do remember was sitting in a large convention hall at a dinner hosted by a football coach. He was chastising (in absentia) ticket holders who hadn’t shown up. And he was honoring fans who had. He rewarded the most loyal ones with lifetime game tickets. The middling ones received the current season’s tickets only.

Exactly how this followed, I cannot tell you. But I knew I had to keep writing, and that a blog on Virtue was what needed to be thought through and posted.

Phoenix - sized

In rethinking the recent blog on ethics, I connected several dots for the first time. I’ll also connect what I’ve written on Virtue to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s most excellent videos on the subject. Spoiler alert: we agree in substance entirely. My particular contribution is the multi-dimensional Life Wheel geometry. It adds depth and dimension — a new perspective — to the mix. In addition, I look to the energy concepts embedded in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a more comprehensive take on Virtue.

But, Dr. Peterson first.

In Why be Virtuous, he says:

If you’re going to rely on your sense of meaning, make sure that you don’t pollute the mechanism. . . . try not to utter falsehoods, because you warp your neurological structure by doing so. . . it will read out pathologically. . . if you rely on it to guide you, it will run you right off a cliff. So that’s why there’s a moral element to this.

. . . Why be virtuous? That’s the question. It’s so that you can bear the suffering of life without becoming corrupt [forgetting, becoming disconnected, dissociated from the core center of who you truly are] . . . it’s practical. There’s nothing more practical than that. Unless you want misery . . .

Listening really closely to Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Necessity of Virtue helped me recognize that in fact, he is fully aware of and gives us all the elements of the Life Wheel. It’s as if he as a “natural,” intuitively aware of the Wheel’s existence. But he zips right passed it, like Einstein and his famous equation, not knowing what he has been given.

With emphasis to underscore the correlation with the Wheel, he says:

Virtue, ethics, morality isn’t a field of study. It’s a mode of being upon which all fields of study rest. It’s also a mode of being upon which all everything you do in your life rests. . . And more deeply than that, what role it is that you play in your life in the world.

. . . To the degree that they [clinical clients] are embedded in a network of relationships where virtue is fundamentally absent, they’re tortured and tormented and they’re unable to find firm ground.

. . . Modern people are fundamentally materialistic. There’s some utility in that. We’re masters of material transformation. And the fact that we’re materialistic in our scientific philosophies has made us extremely powerful – maybe too powerful for our morality – extremely powerful from a technological perspective. But it has blinded us to certain things.

I think one of the things that it has really blinded us to is the nature of our own being. 2:32 because we make the assumption that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are material. We fail to notice that the fundamental constituent elements of our own reality are NOT material [outer surface rim of the Life Wheel]. They”re emotional [energy level]. They’re motivational [light and conscience levels]. They’re dreams. They’re visions. They’re relationships with other people. They’re dependent on consciousness – and Self-consciousness. And we have no materialist explanation whatsoever either for consciousness or Self-consciousness. And we don’t deal well from a materialistic perspective with the qualities of being.

Phoenix - sized

Now me.

First, as an aside, here is a personal example of how life experience has prepared me step-by-step for the unforeseeable future. I started as a musician, training my hands and building keyboard skills. This translated into typing faster than a speeding bullet, which made it possible to pay the bills as a legal secretary. In that job, I learned transcription, which later served me well as a graduate student taking ethnology courses. During that time, I learned that recording interviews not only freed me from having to take notes, the better to give the subject my full attention. Transcribing afterwards gave me the humble awareness that – of what I thought I had heard — I’d consciously registered at best a small fraction of what had been spoken.

The payoff even further down the pike is that now, when I listen to youtube videos dense in spoken content, I know to transcribe them word-for-word, the better to really “hear” all that has been spoken.

A second important aside – an inversion of the Crime and Punishment theme. While full-spectrum virtue has its intrinsic rewards, in corrupted civilizations, virtue sometimes has short-term punishments. Socrates’ death, described by Plato, is an example. Described in Essay 2 on Death:

Fear is the natural outcome of limited materialistic beliefs equating the end of physical life with total extinction. Those who experience the True Self as immortal and indestructible are not plagued by fear of mortality. No doubt the courage and solace which sustained Socrates as he calmly accepted his death sentence — not as an escape, but an affirmation of principle — came from the depth of his soul awareness.

Now then, to the point: the complete and accurate paradigm embodied in the Life Wheel makes it possible to distinguish the differences between morality, ethics and virtue.

This is one reason why restoring a complete and accurate paradigm to common understanding is a matter of human survival. For without agreement upon a complete and correct paradigm, a community of shared, effective communication is not possible. (Who would actively promote this negative/destructive outcome, and why? Who stands to benefit?)

Conversely, there is no place for genuine Virtue in a hollowed out, atheist world view. Its origins and home have been ruled out.

Phoenix - sized

In the complete and correct paradigm, Christ shines forth from the eternal center of the Life Wheel. His light illumines the middle level, which filters light into the full spectrum of natural virtues. Virtues, including kindness, gentleness and courage, reflect inner light. They are hardwired at the energy center, woven into human DNA.

Dr. Peterson says the significance of Christ’s being a carpenter is that he had to do good work – build houses that stay standing. Agreed. In addition, however, historically a “carpenter” is “joiner,” meaning one who connects all the pieces together – one who has the ability to unify separate parts into a single, coherent whole. The Life Wheel which links center to surface in an infinite loop represents this reality.

In this context, morality is a socially useful code of conduct located on the surface rim of the Wheel. Genuine virtue, like the Law of Karma, is an energy concept located in the fatally forgotten middle level of the Life Wheel. As described earlier, this level serves as the necessary two-way Gate-Keeper between the eternal center and its manifest world.

Morality has a virtue component, but with add-ons. It can reflects Divine Law. An example of this is the Ten Commandments handed down from God on Mount Sinai to Moses. On the other, it sometimes, though not always, is reflected in Human Laws. Warrior codes of conduct are one example. Others include religious sanctions and secular legislation which dictates moral behavior. Outcomes are inconsistent at best.

Whereas ethics are strictly intellectual, moral courage blends mental commitment to a code of conduct with the virtue of fiery conviction.

Phoenix - sized

 

Here is an essay that expands on what I mean:

Essay 54. VIRTUE

In the West, virtue suggests righteousness, but in fact Te is a term that refers to the potential energy that comes from being in the right place and in the right frame of mind at the right time. — R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

The last thing to say about strategy is that it exploits opportunity, the right moment. Greek theologians called it Kairos, the point when the new is received. . . Ask: “Is this something that fits our strengths? Can we develop the service that satisfies?” Then comes the third element, the right moment to seize the opportunity by the forelock, to run with success. — Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world. . . we learn we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. — Sir Winston Churchill, Radio broadcast to America

THE FRONT

Definitions of virtue are mixed and confusing. Ancient derivations suggest goodness or power. Latin roots imply manliness or worth. Webster’s definitions refer to moral excellence, right action and thinking. In a woman, virtue is said to imply chastity. In a man, it implies effectiveness or force. It can also mean the power to heal or strengthen.

In ancient Asian traditions, virtue is used as an umbrella term. Healing sciences correlate the healthy functioning of each internal organ with a specific virtue, while weakened energy centers generate negative emotions.

For example, heart energy produces either the experience of love or expressions of cruelty. Kidney energy manifests as either gentleness or fear. Liver energy has the potential for either kindness or anger. Lung energy produces confidence or grief. Spleen energy manifests alternatively as openness or anxiety. Combined positive energies blended together create a transcendent virtue called compassion. In Western traditions, this compassion is called charity.

Though in medical schools it remains a little know fact, oriental and occidental healing traditions have common origins. The caduceus, the familiar symbol of the modern medical profession, has its origins in Greek mythology, which in turn extends back to Himalayan traditions, and still further to ancient Egypt. In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of the messenger god, Mercury. In yoga traditions, this symbol represents energy anatomy.

Caduceus.jpg

As a shorthand logo, the staff represents the spine. Twin snakes encircling the axis represent alternating positive and negative energy currents. Intersecting points where cyclic energy forces meet at the axis are the major centers of transformation, chakras. Wings sprouting from the bija point at the top of the axis represent the ajna center, known as the “third eye.”

I Ching traditions describe virtue as the competence acquired by coordinating and balancing the yin-yang functions and concerns associated with each subtle energy center, then harnessing these energies to serve consistent, positive ends. It is not gender-specific.

Confucius compared virtue to an oriel. He observed this bird as being perfectly in harmony with nature: precisely accurate in the timing of its flight, poised upon well-chosen landing, and sweet in its song. Who, he asked, could hope to be more virtuous than this winged messenger?

Such virtue is radically different from arbitrary moral codes specific to a particular time and place. Sometimes an elite class imposes morality upon presumed inferiors in order to exploit them. Often, the unspoken maxim is, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Rich corporate owners, for example, expect their workers to be hard-working, law-abiding and honest. For the most part, however, they themselves act as if above the law. Compliant workers though moral, aren’t necessarily virtuous.

Soldiers follow orders, mindlessly destroying life and property for the sake of pay. Warriors uphold the codes of their particular tribe or clan. Heroes act from love to protect life. Great leaders like Lincoln, Churchill and most recently Giuliani, however, shed light on the human condition during history’s darkest hours and times of greatest need. They exemplify innate virtue — the courage which leaders of all cultures share in common.

THE BACK

Vice is the opposite of virtue, while sin is the opposite of morality. Villains are those who abuse energy potentials to destructive ends. Chief among the vices is pride, taking natural gifts for granted, forgetting their universal Source. Another is deception, pretending to have virtues one lacks in order to get respect and compliance from others.

Indifference, apathy and paralysis are perversions of virtue. Stagnations in the human body and body politic reduce an organism’s vitality and capacity for positive action. Macho moral codes which assume virtue is exclusively gender-related become self-fulfilling prophecies — IF women and men are fooled into accepting them.

The Gate Keeper

Responding to a conversation between Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux, Sorting Yourself Out, I wrote:

Practical tools I’ve acquired and developed could well serve to fortify your intellectual arsenals in the ongoing media battle for the hearts and minds of the general public.

. . . my work identifies an overlooked but fatal blind-spot in Western thinking. (I will elaborate on this at length in a post to be called “The Gate Keeper.”) Suffice it to say here that unless/until we restore a complete and correct paradigm to common understanding, the downward spiral of history will continue on its course unchecked.

This, then is The Gate Keeper post.

Phoenix - sized

The middle level of the Life Wheel is the missing piece of the knowledge puzzle, lacking which one cannot get from here (daily experience) to there (inner peace and truth).

Here is the description of the e = energy level of the Life Wheel from The Handbook:

e  =  Energy

Much ignorance, misinformation and confusion surrounds the energy level of the Positive Paradigm. The state of chaos into which the world has degenerated attests to this deficiency, as well as the urgent need to correct it. Only the basics are described here, suggestive of further exploration.

The middle level is the domain of Natural Law, whose dynamics are mapped in the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Change. This body of knowledge has evolved over eight-thousand years as sages continue to observe the operations of energy and document the repetitive patterns of change.

Natural Law maps the energetic underpinnings of the dynamic, physical world. It is experienced as the patterned recurring cycles of seasonal change, and is equally applicable to humans and their cyclical life changes: birth, growth, decay and death.

The middle layer is the realm of less tangible but still measurable states of energy, including electricity. More subtly, it is the chi, ki or prana described by Chinese, Japanese and Indian traditions as the life force which animates all living beings. In Greek and Christian contexts it correlates with the breath, the psyche.

These subtle energies influence internal psychological states and drive external human behavior, which in turn affects social relationships. Knowledge of these dynamics is essential to personal survival.

Effective leadership and the quality of life within organizations hinge on the quality of awareness brought to dynamics at this level. While some leaders understand the dynamics of change at a gut level as a matter of common sense, systematic logic and deliberate understanding would significantly improve the results of the decision-making process.

Those denied access to material and social resources are often forced inside. Of necessity, turning inward, they develop and depend for survival upon strengths drawn from the middle and center of the Life Wheel.

At times, material deprivation and hardships yield the opposite and equal blessings of in-sight and emotional fortitude. At other times, however, excessive investment at the middle level results in delusions, latent with the potential for erupting into violence.

In any case, making a virtue of necessity by rejecting the material world prevents completion of the pattern. It can’t correctly be equated with spirituality.

Cultures which enforce an exclusively materialistic worldview and deny the experience of everything not tangible and measurable place severe hardships on those whose inner lives are especially active. The Handbook gives ample opportunities to diagnose such imbalances, the better to remedy them.

Societies which deny their citizens practical outlets for articulating and harnessing inner energies creatively can literally drive people crazy, to murder and suicide, or at best, underground. Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness and longing for self-fulfilling adventure into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction. (Substance abuse and food addictions are also turned to for escape, as are violent video games.)

This is a great loss to society. The world would be better off if high-energy, creative individuals were identified as potential leaders, trained and given employment options accordingly.

Phoenix - sized

Awareness of the middle energy level equated with emotions has recently been brought back into fashion in the guise of “emotional intelligence.” But why has the middle, Gate Keeper level for so long been relegated to the realms of the taboo and banned from conscious awareness?

Certainly laziness is one problem. Cleaning out one’s personal emotional swamp can be very hard work.

Furthermore, untamed and unharnessed, it can be very dangerous. When polluted, the middle energy level  houses the inner demons of terrifying, repressed memories. It is the storehouse of our socially unacceptable worst fears and imaginings.

This leads to a fateful fear of self-awareness. For there are times when one shouldn’t believe or follow one’s inner voices. Disciplined, discriminating thinkers (in the pristine meaning of the word) know that not all of them emanate from the Source of truth and light:

. . . the Positive Paradigm also accounts for the actions of destructive and evil people throughout history which give Page pause. Despite claims to the contrary, such actions are not the result listening to the inner voice of conscience. Evil actions are the mark of unbalanced extremists who have been misled into following the seductive voices lodged within the middle, sub-rational level of the Wheel.

Destructive leaders are heeding not the innermost voice of Conscience, but the clamor of the Seven Deadly Sin-Demons — starting with Pride, followed by (and often in combination with) Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Lust, Envy and Sloth. Modern day demon off-spring include Separatism, Exclusiveness, Arrogance, and Self-Serving Competition.

What’s dangerously missing from the prevailing, exclusively materialistic paradigm of empirical science — a glaring gap which the Positive Paradigm of Change fills — is a universally acceptable reality map which includes the sub-rational middle level with all its dangers, but in its complete and correct context: contained by the super-rational level of intuition on one side and by the rational level of practical experience on the other.

Phoenix - sized

An important reason why the middle level has gotten such a bad rep and is rejected by religionists is that, taken out of context, it becomes the stuff of nature worship, paganism and worse. As guest of an extended family of Frank Lloyd Wright apprentices in Spring Green, I heard their stories of how romanticizing nature while rejecting its Source can end in murder, mayhem and untold miseries.

This is why in The Handbook, Axiom One emphasizes the importance of living according to a complete and accurate paradigm. The shadow side, the caveat, warns of the risks which follow from distorting that paradigm:

AXIOM ONE

A complete and correct paradigm is the key to personal well-being and success.

The empirical, measurable physical world of tangible objects and daily experience has its origin and end at the creative center of the Life Wheel. The unseen drives the seen. The invisible precedes the visible. Inspiration precedes actions which in turn produce results.

Therefore, the quality of daily life depends on the quality of belief systems. If the paradigm held is complete and accurate, it leads to consistent action that yields successful, beneficial results. When paradigms are incomplete and inaccurate, however, they generate inconsistent actions which lead to failure, pain and suffering.

Phoenix - sized

ADDENDUM

The Life Wheel model formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is NOT an arbitrary mental confabulation, as are the highly toxic, relatively modern ideological -isms: Marxism, Communism, Socialism and the like. The consequences of fractured, dissociated ideologies begin with personal fragmentation but have the potential to escalate into genocide. The fractured Life Wheel looks something like this:

World gone mad

Significantly, the root of the word “sin” comes from an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” If the center of the Life Wheel represents the ultimate goal of enlightenment, than any belief system which rules out that center, or attempts to subordinate its power to personal agendas, misses the mark indeed.

The complete and accurate paradigm (belief system) embodied in the target-like concentric circles of the Life Wheel is simply a fact of life, known and taught by the ancients for thousands of years. (Violate it at your own risk.)

It’s no coincidence that yogis describe inner experience in images that evoke the Life Wheel. They speak of increasingly deeper layers as “sheathes” and the process of getting to the core as “peeling away the layers of an onion.” Nor is it coincidental that the word “yoga,” which means union, refers to linking and prioritizing the levels of the Life Wheel so that all are present, balanced and operate harmoniously.

But, of course, arrogant academics will ask, “Where is the proof?”

The yogi’s answer: “In direct experience!”

This is the accomplished meditator’s answer to the skeptical agnostic and antagonistic atheist’s challenge: “The bad news is, it’s like trying to explain what colors look like to a blind person, or how chocolate tastes to someone who’s never had any.

The good news, however, is that inner truth can be known by direct experience. And there are means and methods for getting from here to there.”

Were you to ask a Zen master how to achieve enlightenment, the simple answer you’d probably get is: “SHUT UP!”

In gentler form, the Yoga Sutras of Patajani offers the same solution.

The yogic process involves going step-by-systematic-step deeper into the Life Wheel. The preliminary stage is to heal and strengthen the physical body which correlates with the material surface of the Wheel. This is called Hatha Yoga. Here, the object of physical exercise is not to make oneself attractive to potential mates, but rather to stabilize the physical body so that distractions of pain and disease are eliminated and the body is sufficiently stable to sit somewhat comfortably for prolonged durations of time in meditation.

The next two steps, called the five yamas and five niyamas, (sometimes compared to the Ten Commandments) are disciplines of social behavior. The point is that one’s character must be sufficiently developed in relationship to others to assure that the knowledge and subtle powers which accrue in advanced states of development will be used constructively, in harmony with the greater good.

Significantly, Pranayama, exercises for regulating the breath (prana) are then introduced to link the surface with the middle energy level of the Life Wheel. Breath control practices relax the body, calm the emotions and quiet the mind. [Building on this tradition, mindfulness therapists instruct stressed clients to take a deep breath.]

Only then are the next steps of contemplation and introspection prescribed. (It is at this point of inner development that querying the I Ching for the purpose of increasing self-awareness becomes an especially helpful discipline.) Finally, meditation is prescribed.

It is important to note that the deeper one delves into the Life Wheel experience, the quieter the mind becomes. Thoughts become less fragmented and noisy. Brain waves become harmonized and increasingly slower until the mind achieves the rest of complete stillness. Hence, by the disciplined practice of intentional, systematic methods, one achieves the inward state of grace which scriptures prescribe: “Be still and know that I AM God.”

So western sciences serve to confirm what yogis have taught from direct experience. The following illustration shows how the science of brain waves experienced by meditators (and musicians!!) can be plugged into the Life Wheel. The increasingly deeper states of awareness which sutras describe are the waking and dream states which then slow and relax into the REM state of dreamless sleep. These correlate with bio-feedback measurements of increasingly slower vibrational patterns: the beta, alpha, theta and delta states.

 

brain waves

As an aside – here’s a topic that bears investigation by Western psychologists, particularly those with a Jungian bent. This geometrical construct is consistent with, and may even explain, the fact that careful observers of human experience, especially who aspire to self-knowledge and self-actualization, are persuaded of the significance (sometimes helpfulness) of dreams.

Freud, for example, held that daily events are nested within an encompassing dream state – a field rich in information beyond ordinary access. Small wonder. For, as shown here, the dream state is foundational to the material world. Located within the middle Gate Keeper layer of the Life Wheel, it resides at a deeper level, therefore closer to the experience of light and illumination than the waking state which is invested in primarily tangible, measurable experience.

Be that as it may, the accomplished yogi, one who experiences what is described as “Christ consciousness,” links the levels into a single continuum of awareness called “turyia,” living both here and there. Awareness of the silent core is consciously present while fully awake. One’s daily reality is clear and consistent with one’s dreams as well as with deepest knowing.

Now, although a few come into this world already blessed in a state of Christ consciousness, most of us achieve it through choice and determined, dedicated, disciplined work — the product of consistent positive attitudes, right choices and good deeds. Surely faith and trust enter in. Also in the mix, however, knowledge makes a difference. As stated at the start, it is important to have a clear, correct and complete paradigm – an accurate road map – to steer by. “Every little bit helps.”

 

Phoenix - sized

On a personal note, as someone who grew up saturated in classical music, I experienced an easier time than most in relating to yoga sciences. String music served as my particular bridge to inner realms of experience.

The following is a description (my emphasis added) of a book that speaks to how this might be so, another example of applying western brain sciences to confirm ancient wisdom: Don Campbell’s The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit:

Anyone who has ever seen a two-year-old start bouncing to a beat knows that music speaks to us on a very deep level. But it took celebrated teacher and music visionary Don Campbell to show us just how deep, with his landmark book The Mozart Effect.

. . . The Mozart Effect has a simple but life-changing message: music is medicine for the body, the mind, and the soul. Campbell shows how modern science has begun to confirm this ancient wisdom, finding evidence that listening to certain types of music can improve the quality of life in almost every respect. Here are dramatic accounts of how music is used to deal with everything from anxiety to cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, dyslexia, and even mental illness.

. . . Campbell asserts that the kind of noise to which one is exposed can have important effects on mental and bodily health. As a trial, try protecting your hearing for a few days from the continuous barrage of noise in a typical urban environment; it really does seem to improve one’s attitude and fatigue levels.

Where Campbell’s ideas become more provocative is in the realm of music. Supported by much anecdotal evidence, he proposes that Classical music with a big “C” (the music of Mozart’s period) can reach out to those who are mentally isolated from their fellows, like the autistic, and can help infants react and think better. In addition, the music of Mozart contributes to the improved functioning of the higher cerebellar functions, including the ability to deal with logical and mathematical concepts, while contemporary rock actually decreases mental acuity.

Phoenix - sized

The Many Faces of Discrimination

Sorting Yourself Out, a fascinating conversation between Stefan Molyneux and Jordan Peterson, is a  demonstration of critical rational thinking at its best. In response, I’m sharing these earlier thoughts on reason and discrimination.

Up front, I’ll tell you, I’m not persuaded that critical thinking, even at its finest, is enough. I explained why in The Handbook:

Reason is necessary but not sufficient. When used to link the material surface with the middle and inner levels of the Life Wheel, it is a powerful tool. When turned against the life force, elevating itself as if it were the exclusive way of knowing, it presumes to judge what is beyond it. This is hubris, the catalyst of tragedy. [As bureaucratic regulations example] Rationality in the extreme changes into its opposite, producing desperately irrational results.

In Conscience, I elaborated on the uses and political abuses of reason:

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which defines the rules of knowledge at any given time/place, setting limits by its answers to these questions: What can be known, how, and by whom?

Answers have political overtones, often assigning roles according to class, race, age or gender. Rules governing who may know what drive cultural decisions regarding the distribution of wealth, power, social status and access to legal protections.

Empirical science respects only information known through reason. Universities train students to dissect and analyze with quantitative and verbal skills. At its best, reason is a tool of constructive discernment, capable of articulating both tangible and intangible information.

With proper training, it can be used to harness the sub-rational, serve the super-rational and link the two, balancing their extremes. As such, reason is a harmonizing function.

However, using reason to rule out, avoid or even demean awareness of sub- and super-rational experience is an abuse of the critical faculty.

Though this might sound dry in the abstract, the story excerpted in Rethinking Discrimination of my working as an Affirmative Action Consultant for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards gives it a human face.

Further, in The Tower of Babel Dilemma I wrote:

It seems to me that language has devolved into quite the opposite of the English I’d learned to love and respect in high school. There, we were taught to regard language as the premier tool of logic. When used with Sherlock-like diligence, applied the powers of keen observation and heightened awareness, it could solve mysteries — not only to detect the crimes of evil-doers and the nefarious plots of national enemies, but to unravel the mysteries of life and the universe.

Turned inwards, used with self-honesty, language is essential to cultivating self-awareness. For the truth-seeker, language is a necessary vehicle of information both on the inward quest and on the return journey outwards to share results.

But even people with the best of intentions use the same words to mean very different things. They miss each other coming and going, only vaguely aware of the disconnect.

. . . Instead of being used as a means for unifying human beings, language is often degraded into chaotic paralyzing noise – a weapon for stirring up animosities, division and confusion.

globe bullet size

As one example, the following Essay on Discrimination plugs the many definitions of the over-used and abused word “Discrimination” into the levels of the Life Wheel.

ESSAY 19. DISCRIMINATION

We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. . . this delusions is a kind of prison for us . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion. . We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. — Albert Einstein

Dealing exclusively on a rational level with an issue like discrimination which is deeply emotion-laden (sub-rational) on the one hand, and highly value-laden (super-rational) on the other, fails to acknowledge and draw on the levels where problems begin and where solutions can be found. — Patricia West, Positive Action: The Next Generation

Seeing and hearing are like food and drink; you need them every day, but you also need to digest and eliminate them every day. If they are not digested and eliminated thoroughly, they remain in the gut, eventually producing illness.Taoist Meditation, trans. Thomas Cleary

THE FRONT

Three levels of definition attribute opposite, contradictory meanings to the single word discrimination. In the context of Affirmative Action legislation, failure to recognize and sort out this confusion has resulted in muddled perceptions its purpose, inconsistent implementation and half-hearted compliance.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s rational definition of discrimination posits a neutral function of mind. To discriminate is to distinguish with the mind or intellect; to perceive, observe, or note the difference in or between.

As an analytical tool, discrimination is the neutral function of mind used to dissect a situation’s parts and deduce cause/effect relationships amongst them. As a tool, effects of its use, whether creative or destructive, depend on motives and competence.

The final definition adds a preposition: against. To discriminate against is to make an adverse distinction in regard to, to distinguish unfavorably from others. This negative definition is the sub-rational use.

It describes abuse of the critical faculty of mind to separate, distance and subordinate others, and to rationalize exploitation. Discrimination as a function of biased, negative emotions such as fear, hate, envy, arrogance or greed is the polar opposite of objective analysis.

Still further from the rational meaning of discrimination is its super-rational definition. It is not included in The Oxford English Dictionary. However, in Eastern scriptures, the highest function of mind is called “buddhi” (hence the name Buddha), translated into English as “the power of discrimination.”

This usage alludes to the ability to see through deceptive illusions, to recognize the eternal in the midst of change, to be aware of all-pervading spirit operating within gross material forms.

While rational discrimination is neutral and sub-rational discrimination has separatist results, the super-rational function of discrimination is unifying in effect. Depending on the user’s mind-set, the I Ching can be used to serve rational, sub- or super-rational motives.

Ideally, it’s used to facilitate the process of mental metabolism. When the senses are overloaded with impressions, the Book of Change can be approached as a discipline for settling the mind and organizing one’s thoughts sufficiently to define the immediate situation and ask questions about it.

As negative emotions surface, they’re named and released, not unlike the process of separating toxins from useful nutrients, eliminating them as waste. Rational thoughts are then simplified, prioritizing essentials and aligning them to basic purpose. Then, when emotions and rational mind are harmonized and stilled, the higher mind is invoked. It is in this state of tranquil revere that one pierces the veil of ordinary thought, allowing the transcendent awareness attributed to genius to come forward.

Einstein, for example, acknowledged that his famous e = mc2 formula came in a flash of inspired contemplation. He faulted his peers for what he called the “fateful fear of metaphysics,” a pernicious prejudice that’s easily as dangerous as racism or sexism.

Here are levels of discrimination placed in their Life Wheel context:

Discrim2.jpg

THE BACK

Mercy and compassion ameliorate the effects of negative discrimination. Introspective activities like self-analysis and use of the I Ching promote the positive capacity to discriminate, make correct decisions, and act wisely. In human law, the opposite of discrimination is justice and equity. In an equitable society, wisdom is promoted as the foundation of harmony and order.

In an unjust world, the discipline of positive discrimination is neglected. Ruthless extortionists in positions of political power will kill to prevent discriminating thinkers from recognizing and opposing their abuses. Tyrants promote negative discrimination. They exploit hatred, weakening their people by turning them against each other, conquering by dividing them.

It’s Hard

I identify with Jack Kornfield‘s stories about the hard work between leaving everything behind and coming to a bit of self-knowledge and calm. In the 1960s, walking away from an unhappy childhood in a troubled American society, he sought out Asian teachers via the Peace Corps and apprenticed himself to Buddhist masters.

However, a warning maxim sums up what he quickly learned: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

When Kornfield – a senior founder of the mindfulness movement – sat in a far away jungle monastery practicing meditation, he didn’t experience bliss. Instead, what came forward was a powerful mix of painful emotions – buried disappointment, fear, rage, and hatred – triggered by memories of an abusive father which he’d failed to heal earlier.

His experience confirms another cautionary maxim. As I was warned early on, best not expect quick results from introspection. “It’s hard to remember you’re here to clean out the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.”

alligators

I wrote about my own personal challenges in Rethinking Survival:

Rethinking Survival is a hybrid. It’s part memoir. But far deeper, it’s the stuff of a paradigm shift. It voices the aspirations which everyone shares in common. But it also fingers the false assumptions that too often tie us in paralyzing knots. 

Inevitably, shadow issues to face were embedded within the wonderful opportunities I’ve been granted.

Each opportunity that presented itself contained within it an opposite and equal challenge to divest myself of limiting myths and misconceptions. Yogis compare the process to peeling away the layers of an onion. The Taoist I Ching scholar translated by Thomas Cleary described it as stripping away artificial veneers of cultural conditioning to restore the original True Self. Another source likens the process to the Herculean task of cleaning out the Aegean horse stables.

Further:

The same friend who told me about neatsies also reminded me about R.D. Laing’s Knots.2 Undetected assumptions wrapped in twisted logic can tie people in knots. They act like a life-draining cancer. False beliefs can drive people crazy, even to acts of criminal violence. We agreed about the dangers of living a lie, as if there were no options. This is how individuals (then dysfunctional families and nations) self-destruct.

One benefit of respecting the wisdom to be found in ancient cultures is this: Those who lived simply, close to nature, remind us of timeless truths which we as complicated urban dwellers have forgotten. Asians seeped for thousands of years in the I Ching understood much that harried moderns dearly need to recover.

For example, Confucius understood the primary importance of personal responsibility:

Confucius

Though stated in reverse order in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze also held that the world is necessarily changed one person at a time, and from the inside out:

18

With this in mind, I had mixed emotions about the recent American election. In Clarion Call I wrote:

Perhaps deeper than the President-Elect consciously knows (or even needs to), his words ring true across the full continuum of the Life Wheel. BUT: here is the danger . . .

Many people, due to a host of unfortunate circumstances, live primarily on the shallow surface of the Life Wheel. They haven’t the depth to recognize or respect what,  for whatever reason, they’ve forgotten. Worse, some, unintentionally or otherwise, live at odds with inner truth. They will continue to spin, distort and attempt to delegitimize DJT’s victory . . .

They will definitely stir up unnecessary conflict to destabilize the world, as if to prevent his best intentions from coming True.

Today, looking back with the advantage of hindsight, I shake my head. What a noble but sadly mistaken approach, to focus on ending corruption on a national scale, while individual hearts, families, communities and states are, for the most part, alligator-infested swamps.

Current events reinforce earlier my conclusion:

Changing the world, especially in dangerous times, is an overwhelming prospect. It’s also unnecessary. No matter how much is going wrong “out there,” the manageable unit that’s one’s first responsibility to change is the one closest to home: oneself.

Our best hope is, still yet, to think small. Begin with one’s self.

Yes, taming one’s inner alligators is hard work. Very hard. But it’s infinitely worth it.

climbing alligator